By the end of Winter's Tale, I was thinking about Alissa Wilkinson's review of About Time. The stories aren't very similar (except for the time traveling thing). But the trailers for both flicks sold the story as a rom-com when they were much more than that.
So much so that I thought I really wasn't going to enjoy Winter's Tale. The poster seemed best suited for the cover of a paperback novel. But though I didn't love the movie either, it reminded me in some ways of Stardust (based on the Neil Gaiman book) and The Golden Compass (without the controversially dark allegorical content), both shimmering magic-adventure films that I enjoyed watching once or twice.
Written and directed by Hollywood standard Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend) and ostensibly based on the Mark Helprin novel, the story follows Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a young rogue in early 20th century New York who falls in love with a dying heiress (Jessica Brown Findlay). That's about all I can say without giving away anything for those who haven't also read the novel.
But following this first 45 minutes of period piece romancing, it gets that whole GoldenCompass/Stardust vibe. Animals or small children can be "spirit guides." Each person has "a miracle inside them." When you die, your soul floats up to the heavens and becomes a star. And Findlay, shining in a role perfectly suited for the Downton Abbey damsel, delivers a series of celestial, sparkly lines about light, love, and the miracles in us all.
Instructions in order to enjoy this fairy tale: treat it like that—a fairy tale. The story is light, even with a demon soul-crusher (Russell Crowe) trying to kill the good guys, obliterate ...