Helprin's 'Winter Tale' Brought To Life On Silver Screen

Feb 17, 2014
Originally published on February 23, 2014 12:11 pm



Book fans can be pretty picky about how Hollywood treats their favorite reads, and Hollywood doesn't always hit the mark. Mark Helprin's "Winter's Tale" has been a favorite of readers since it was published in 1983. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has a review of how well it works as a movie.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Winter's Tale" is so clearly a labor of love for writer-director Akiva Goldsman, you'd like to be able to say it's a complete success. It isn't, but the fervor between stars Colin Farrell and "Downtown Abbey's" Jessica Brown Findlay provides lush emotional magic. Goldsman, an Oscar-winning screenwriter for "A Beautiful Mind," has drastically pared down Mark Helprin's massive novel. The film is set in New York, but in a parallel universe, where magic is possible. Protagonist Peter Lake, played by Farrell, is a master thief, circa 1916, on the run from a former boss. When he attempts to rob a mansion, he meets Beverly, played by Findlay. She's wealthy, drop-dead gorgeous and suffering from a life-threatening disease.


JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY: (as Beverly) You have a gun.

COLIN FARRELL: (as Peter) Right.

FINDLAY: (as Beverly) What are you doing here?

FARRELL: (as Peter) I'm just robbing the place, you know.

FINDLAY: (as Beverly) Is that still your intention?

FARRELL: (as Peter) Nope. No, it isn't.

FINDLAY: (as Beverly) Well, then. I suppose the polite thing to do would be to offer you a cup of tea.

TURAN: The strength of "Winter's Tale" is the real chemistry Findlay and Farrell create in their shamelessly romantic scenes together.


FINDLAY: (as Beverly) What's the best thing you've ever stolen?

FARRELL: (as Peter) I'm beginning to think I haven't stolen it yet.

FINDLAY: (as Peter) Aren't you the charmer?

TURAN: Once "Winter's Tale's" convoluted plot leaves this couple, much of the magic leaves with it. Many of the other actors - including Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly - don't have a firm grasp on their parts or where they fit into this convoluted tale. Because it is fearlessly sincere and not totally successful, "Winter's Tale" is easy to mock. But its willingness to go all-out in its quest for the grandest romantic gestures is admirable. Magic like that is hard to come by, both on screen and off.


MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the L.A. Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.