New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter, an Irish burglar in his early 20's, and Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), a young girl, who is dying. Written by
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Don't listen to the critics! Give Winter's Tale a chance!
This movie is a breath of fresh air. That being said, you have to go into it expecting and understanding it is from the genre of "Magic Realism".
I actually read the entire book by Mark Helprin, unlike most of the professional critics, so I knew what type of movie it was going to be and I had appropriate expectations. The book was around 700 pages and it wasn't a Harry Potter-type 700 pages. The novel is a very complex, wordy, difficult to read and oftentimes very confusing piece of work, jam packed with very descriptive imagery. I found myself reading parts over and over to gain an understanding of it that I still wasn't completely secure with when I was finished. In fact, most people I know have ATTEMPTED READING it, and end up abandoning the book because of the reasons I just mentioned. After I finished the book, I scoured the internet trying to find any reviews of the book to help me understand and see if I "really got it". To my frustration, you really can't find any complete reviews of the book because I'm pretty sure most people (like me) had a lot of confusion with the story as well!
In most of the reviews I read, people are ripping Akiva Goldsman apart saying his adaptation is awful, but I strongly disagree. He had to leave out some of the aspects of the book in the interest of time (For example, a whole storyline of characters from the middle of the book are missing from the film.) He kept the really important parts of the novel and successfully makes them stand on their own.
Leaving the theater, I feel like Goldsman's interpretation ACTUALLY CLARIFIED a lot of the book for me. Incidentally, I went to see the film with someone who had NOT read the book and knew nothing about it, and he thought it was way better that the reviews said as well. As a matter of fact, I definitely liked Goldsman's ending better than Helprin's! I finished the book with the feeling of "What? That's it??? Is my book missing pages?" The movie version is the way I wanted the book to end.
Additionally, Helprin's wordy descriptions played out in my minds eye of the beautiful (and the not-so-beautiful) aspects of the story were brought clearly to life in the movie with the expertly executed "tug-on-your-heartstrings" musical score and cinematography.
So, if you're looking for a curse-them-out, shoot-em-up, or futuristic outer space, or reality-based movie, Winter's Tale would be better rented on DVD. If you're looking for a more philosophical, romantic, thought-provoking fantasy as an escape from most of the usual movies in theaters today, it's worth the ticket price.
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