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A New York Winter's Tale - Review

A New York Winter's Tale

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

AKIVA Goldsman’s directorial debut arrives with high hopes given that it has been adapted by Goldsman himself from a popular novel and boasts a starry cast.

But sadly this century spanning romantic tale of magic, miracles and demons in a mythical New York is so badly done that, while laughable in places, it’s mostly just plain derisory.

Mark Helprin’s source book contains many of the same elements, of course, but was critically acclaimed for his intelligent philosophical leanings and broad emotional sweep.

But Goldsman, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for A Beautiful Mind (but who has also since penned I Am Legend, The Da Vinci Code and I, Robot), abandons the higher brow stuff in favour of schmaltzy romance (not helped by Hans Zimmer’s overly slushy score) and incomprehensible twaddle about good versus evil.

Hence, the story picks up in 1916 as a charismatic thief (Colin Farrell) meets and falls for the dying daughter (Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay) of a publishing tycoon (William Hurt) and believes his love will be strong enough to save her.

Aiming to prevent this ‘miracle’ from happening, however, is a demonic gangland boss (Russell Crowe, complete with monstrous Oirish accent) who seems to be acting on behalf of an underground dwelling Lucifer (Will Smith).

To be fair, Farrell works ridiculously hard to keep things watchable and strikes up a believable relationship with Findlay but the likes of Crowe and Smith seem miscast, misplaced and tend to treat things way too seriously.

Viewers themselves – and especially those unfamiliar with the book – may find themselves hooked very early on while trying to work out what’s going on (winged horse and all). But once they have the measure of the absurdity of the material, they may struggle to care and A New York Winter’s Tale becomes a long and increasingly silly plod to the finishing line.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 118mins
UK Release Date: February 21, 2014