Our lovebird meet as he’s trying to burglarize her parents’ mansion in New York. Armed with a pistol, he’s disarmed by the beauty and calm of the rich and beautiful Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), who offers him tea when he puts away his gun. And so Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) sits down and is “interrogated” by her on his short life of crime. “What’s the best thing you’ve ever stolen?” she asks, fascinated. “I’m beginning to think I haven’t stolen it yet,” he says, gazing at her.

Hopeless romantics will melt at the pulsating ring of those words, but that’s as far as the film released the eve of Valentine’s Day, will take the audience. With fancy lines, like: “Is it possible to love someone so completely they simply can’t die?”- to make the idealist in every girl pines for her knight in shining armor, the film sadly falls short of happily ever after.

Rugged but handsome, Lake isn’t your typical Prince Charming, but he sure can charm the lady of his dreams The transitory hero can’t die until his mission here on Earth is fulfilled. The plot plays heavily on the fictional idea that you’re someone else’s miracle, but love is thwarted by a good ol’ life-threatening disease that always strikes the leading lady as it does in many romance films, from 1970’s Love Story to Forrest Gump in 1994 to 2001’s Sweet November.

It’s possibly the limited time that makes such romances as intense and passionate as they are. Beverly, who has mere months to live due to tuberculosis, inspires the burglar to spend precious time making her happy instead of robbing her home.

Yet, with the arrival of a magical white horse at the nick of time to save Peter from gang head Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) and his men, the storyline seems too farfetched.

This horse fly and help Peter escape danger by bringing him past a cliff, but thankfully doesn’t do what mythical Pegasus the winged stallion and even the flying creatures in the wizarding world of Harry Potter doesn’t-talks. Of course, the film starts off with the disclaimer that this isn’t a true story, but a flying horse is enough to make you roll your eyes at the ludicrousness of it. Without reading the book on which the film is based, you’ll be left confused as to the importance of the flying equine, in the film.

Perhaps what’ll distract the audience are the applause-worthy acting of award-winning actors Will Smith as Lucifer and Russell Crowe as Pearly, who both never fail to deliver. Immersed in their characters, they manage to wow with their portrayal of demons. Crowe especially shows his ‘demonic’ side, complete with full-blown anger and single-minded desire to kill Peter, whom he once raised as a son but who has betrayed him by fleeing from his presence. Lucifer showed off his fangs (literally) and cautioned Pearly to “watch out for the starlight”, hinting that Pearly may be the one dying in the end.

What else salvages the otherwise disappointing and sappy storyline is the cinematography of the film. As scenes of Peter, Beverly and their magical horse walk through the picturesque white snow, the wide shots are gorgeous, letting the audience feel the splendor of the scenery.

Touching on creating destinies, the ending offers an unexpected twist.

Mysteriously, Peter loses memory of not only his beloved, but also his name after getting headbutted several times by Pearly and thrown into the river. Audiences are then brought to the modern time period, where Peter, who mysteriously survived 100 years is piecing together missing puzzle pieces of his life without aging a day, and desperately trying to reincarnate the lover he’d lost. Peter meets caring mother (Jennifer Connelly) and her young child suffering tuberculosis, and the story offers a glimpse of family love.

The change of time reminds us of a recent film settling on the same idea, About Time (2013). With both films depicting the importance of finding true love at the most unexpected of places, fate and time travel, it also shows the stark contrast between the two. About Time resonates with the audience with a simpler story to grasp, and sensible, realistic characters who truly love each other.

Akiva Goldsman, famous for being the scriptwriter of I Am Legend(2007) andI, Robot (2004) both starring Smith, takes on the task of directing this romance film. While his directing is passable, the lack of concrete substance in the plotline makes the film a tad draggy.

Unfortunately, even with the star-studded cast and good-looking leads, Winter’s Tale causes an emotional disconnect due to the lack of information of how the story is mapped out.

The movie does suggest that people who die will become stars. Similar to Stardust (2007), which follows a fallen star’s journey on Earth as she tries to find her way back to her own world, but ultimately falls for a human, both stories place great emphasis on mystical creatures and a supernatural concept.

For those looking for a movie to keep you company this Valentine’s, it’s a better alternative to Ben & Jerry’s and a rented movie marathon at home, though not by much. But if you’re searching for some heartfelt love story to weep about with your partner, then you might have to keep on looking elsewhere.

Rating: 2.8 out of 5
Runtime: 118 min
Release date: Feb 13
Language: English
Censorship: PG-13
Genre:  Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Main Actors: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe


Photos courtesy of: http://wegotthiscovered.com/gallery/winters-tale-gallery/