If you read me with any regularity, you know I prefer the role of cheerleader to that of critic. I love movies and prefer to find and appreciate the good rather than snarking the bad, but especially for anyone who has read and loved Helprin's book - Goldman's film can only be an epic fail.
As writer/director/producer (do you see one of the problems?) Goldman began by ripping most of the novel to shreds and presenting the story as a cosmic love story between Peter Lake (Colin Ferrell) and Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay) the dying daughter of a wealthy newspaper publisher (William Hurt) A strange move, when you consider this was a passion project for Goldman.
Rather than toss out huge chunks of the novel, the material might have been better served if it were presented episodically, on a Netflix type platform. There are so many characters, and meaty side stories, and Helprin has so much to say about about our humanity, our fears, faith, our better selves and the myriad ways in which we truly are connected, I can see this book exploring these themes filling several season's worth of spell-binding TV.
Not enough chilly scenes of winter! We need more snow STAT
Colin Farrell and Ms Brown Findlay, were both beautiful and sensual; but the novel's majesty doesn't come from scenes of trembling lips and intertwined bodies; it comes from the sheer glory of the power of love and the potential of its transformational powers.
"Blazing fires on shore ringed inward bays and harbors like necklaces. At each one, there was steaming chocolate, or rum and cider, and venison roasting on a spit. Skating on the lake in darkness, firing a pistol to keep in touch with a friend, was like traveling in space, for there were painfully bright stars above and all the way down to a horizon that rested on the lake like a bell jar. The stars were reflected perfectly, though dimly, in the ice, frozen until they could not sparkle. Long before, someone had had the idea of laying down wide runners, setting the light-as-a-wedding-cake village bandstand on them, and hitching up a half-dozen plough horses with ice shoes to tow the whole thing around at night. With lights shining from the shell, an entire enchanted village skated behind it as the Coheeries orchestra played a lovely, lucid, magical piece such as "Rhythm of Winter," by A.P. Clarissa. When the farmers all along the undulating lakeshore saw a chain of tiny orange flames, and the shining white castle moving dreamlike through the dark (like a dancer making quick steps under concealing skirts) they strapped on their skates and pogoed through their fields to leap onto the ice and race to the magic that glided across the horizon. As they approached, they were astonished by the music, and by the ghostly legions of men, women, and children skating in the darkness behind the bandshell. They looked like the unlit tail of a comet. Young girls twirled and piroutted to the music: others were content just to follow."Winter's Tale, page 203
Now that's something I would love to see.