This is not a true story. This is a true love.
A New York Winter’s Tale as the title itself says is a tale based on Mark Helprin’s nearly 700-page novel.
Helprin’s story is complex and articulated and really difficult to fit for the screen.
The movie is co-produced, written and directed by Akiva Goldsman, the same writer that gave birth to such screenplays as The Da Vinci Code, Cinderella Man and Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind, which indicates he has never been shy about taking on emotional situations.
What has probably marked this work was the sudden death of his wife.
She died of a heart attack while he was working on the script. When he was able to return to writing, Goldsman said that “the book suddenly went from something I loved to the only thing that mattered”, and in that moment he decided to direct the material as well.
A New York Winter’s Tale visits the world in three years: 1895, 1916 and 2014.
The first time we meet the mean character Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) in the 1916, just after a brief prologue.
Lake is a master thief on the run from former boss Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), head of the Short Tails Gang.
But Pearly is not just a vengeful gangster, he’s a full-fledged demon in league with the devil himself, bound and determined to keep miracles from happening. And when Peter decides to go on his own way, Pearly can’t wait to kill him.
But Peter can count on his spirit guide, Athansor.
Athansor is a gorgeous animal, played by an all-white Andalusian named Listo.
It’s this wonderful horse who leads Peter to Beverly Penn (Downton Abbey‘s Brown Findlay).
Beverly is a wealthy newspaper magnate’s daughter. She is burning up with an advanced case of consumption that threatens to end her life at any moment so everything, for her, is adrenaline.
This is why, when the floor creaks and Beverly turns around, seeing Lake to rob in her house, she offers a cup of tea to him.
Between the two is love at first sight and Peter says to Athansor :”What have you gotten me into?”
Peter and Beverly have just time to fall desperately in love before she goes.
This madly love drives Pearly crazy, and he tries his best to ruin both of them, even appealing to the Devil (Will Smith) himself.
But if you believe in miracles everything is possible, or maybe it is just that “it’s possible to love someone so completely they simply can’t die”.
This is what Peter asks in the movie but it’s also what Goldsman hopes.
About the cast there is real magic between Brown Findlay and Colin Farrell in their scenes together.
But once that they leave the screen much of the magic leaves with them.
Though Matt Bomer, Will Smith and Eva Marie Saint good cameos, Russell Crowe character is overplayed and Jennifer Connelly and William Hurt, don’t seem to have a firm grasp on their parts.
We don’t see a lot of magic these days but it’s lovely, for a couple of hours, to believe in true love miracles and to see in the same way as Beverly sees bright glints of light everywhere.
A New York Winter’s Tale it’s not always a success, but it’s hard not to admire its desperate search of the big romantic gesture.
Also because its otherworldly ingredients and temporal leaps, nowadays, are hard to come by on and off screen.
“Gravity holds us to this world, why can’t love?”