Countless movies have tried — and failed — to portray the beauty and wonder of love. So when a movie like "Winter's Tale" comes along that has such sweetness and grandeur, it becomes a treasure to share.
"Winter's Tale" is simply one of the most endearing and touching romances to grace the silver screen in years.
In this tale of thief Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), and dying socialite Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), director Akiva Goldsman shows that love is about the emotions that draw people together — as if guided by the hands of fate — not the mechanics of attraction.
The film opens in 1916 in a slightly mythical version of New York. Peter has fallen out of favor with his demonic boss, Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), and in an effort to steal enough to pay for an escape to safer climates, he breaks into a house where the ailing Beverly has been left alone. His concerns about his own safety melt away when he sees the young woman, who must stay in freezing circumstances to fight the fever brought on by a fatal battle with consumption.
Their instant love doesn't have a happy ending and Peter finds himself in modern day New York, having not aged a day. It becomes clear that this slip through time has a serious purpose.
There's not been a film about a love that lasts the ages this magical since "Somewhere in Time." The 1980 Christopher Reeve-Jane Seymour romantic masterpiece worked so well because it was easy to believe Seymour was the kind of woman one would cross time and space for. The same goes for Jessica Brown Findlay in "Winter's Tale." There's a purity and power to her that is captivating, the kind of beautiful soul worth defying the hands of time.
Farrell is the romantic center. Whether it's the moment Peter first falls in love with Beverly, or the second he realizes that with great love comes great pain, Farrell brings just enough masculinity to the role to believe he would fight demons for his one true love. He's not afraid to show vulnerability, which makes him that much stronger.
Findlay and Farrell are the central players, but they are surrounded by a sterling cast, from Crowe's sinister turn as the man bent on killing miracles to Mckayla Twiggs as a youngster who desperately wants to believe in miracles.
The cast members play their roles to near perfection, but the heart of "Winter's Tale" is the magnificent story Mark Helprin penned in the original 1983 novel that is lovingly brought to the screen through Goldsman's screenplay. This is a story about love that shows it can be as vast as the stars in the sky and as intimate as a twinkle of starlight.
"Winter's Tale" combines a superb cast with an even more impressive story to make a film that is easy to love.
"Winter's Tale," rated PG-13 for violence. Stars Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Will Smith, William Hurt. Directed by Akiva Goldsman. Running time: 129 minutes. Grade: A
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.