DVD REVIEW: A NEW YORK WINTER’S TALE / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: AKIVA GOLDSMAN / SCREENPLAY: AKIVA GOLDSMAN / STARRING: COLIN FARRELL, JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY, RUSSELL CROWE, JENNIFER CONNELLY / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 18TH
“What if once upon a time there were no stars in the sky at all… what if they aren’t what we think at all? What if they come from our wings as we turn into angels?” is the first line of A New York Winter’s Tale. Fuck me, that’s terrible, isn’t it? But it’s OK, lots of films stumble on the opening voiceover, I’m sure it’ll get better… oh, the monologue’s continuing with some tedious bullshit about the miracle in all of us. It’s fine, we’ll have some actual dialogue soon and surely it’ll improve. I mean, imagine if every second line in the whole damn film exhibited the same awfully po-faced seriousness. But that wouldn’t happen, right? Oh.
There really isn’t a lot to recommend in Akiva Goldsman’s ridiculously failed attempt at mimicking Neil Gaiman. Colin Farrell, a thief with a fabulous 1910s-style emo fringe, is on the run alongside his inexplicably flying horse (who also has a fabulous fringe) when he falls in love at first sight with some girl from Downton Abbey and packs in thievery to mope over her. The problem is, she’s dying of tuberculosis and needs to be kept in chilly environments, Victor Freeze-style. Cue love story with worse romantic dialogue than Attack of the Clones, the lowlight being “Give me a chance and you'll melt all the snow in the world”, somehow simultaneously turning both her terminal illness and a potential climate change catastrophe into a chat-up line.
There’s also a bit set in 2014, in which Farrell is still young and active. Why? She made him love her so much that he didn’t die. No, really. That’s it. That’s actually in the actual film.
Adversity comes in the cracked face of Russell Crowe, who makes a half-assed attempt at playing a mob boss demon out to catch Farrell for reasons I can’t be bothered to remember. Maybe you and your mates can entertain yourselves for five minutes with a game of ‘guess which accent Russell's trying to do’.
The one thing that does score Winter’s Tale some points is Will Smith’s absurdly weird cameo as the Devil. Not because it’s at all good, but I’m not sure it’s terrible either, it just… is. It defies explanation. If you watch it and understand what you just watched, and why, you’re a cleverer person than me. I wanted him to come back, just so I could maybe understand and learn something about myself in the process.
That surreal transcendental experience aside, A New York Winter’s Tale is a big steaming pile of magic flying horse shit. With an utterly muddled plot and dialogue that would make Tommy Wiseau cringe, the only real miracle in this film is when it ends.