I watched this movie while flying down to the Dominican Republic. It was entertaining, if you enjoy historical love stories mixed with a little bit of the supernatural. It stars Colin Farrell (HBO’s True Detective), Jessica Finlay Brown (Downton Abbey), Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly and Will Smith.
A young immigrant couple’s dreams are dashed forever when they are refused entry into the United States. They are marked with the symbol that means consumption. They know that the only chance their baby son will have to live a good life would be in America and not back home. They place the baby in a tiny little model sailboat, with the words “City of Justice” painted on the side of it.
Years later (1916), we find out what has happened to that baby boy. He’s grown up into a man who is a thief. Peter Lake has more or less been raised by a man named Pearly. There’s more to Pearly than meets the eye: he is a supernatural demon. He is also a gangster who runs the 5 boroughs in New York. Peter is tired of the petty life he has and decides that it’s time to leave: a decision which now has him marked for death. He is confronted by Pearly and his gang, only to be rescued by a beautiful white stallion. This white stallion turns out to be his guardian angel.
Figuring he can leave New York, head south to Florida and perhaps return in time to get back into Pearly’s good graces, he decides to hightail it when the horse stops in front of a stately house. One final robbery and off he’ll go. What he didn’t know was that he would meet the daughter of a wealthy published, Beverly Penn, who is dying of consumption. Beverly’s father and sister are not home and when Peter finds Beverly playing the piano, he stops. The robbery forgotten, they share a cup of tea and begin to tell each other the story of their lives.
Trouble begins to brew and Pearly orders his men to Beverly’s home. Peter saves Beverly and they flee to the Lake of the Coheeries, where Pearly is forbidden to follow. He can only stay in the five boroughs. Frustrated, he calls upon the devil to gain access to the family’s lake home and is denied. In the meantime, Peter meets the family and wins their respect. While alone on a walk, Beverly tells Peter that everyone has a miracle inside of them and it is destined to become a star when they die. While all of this is going on, Pearly decides to call on a favour from a friend to get to Peter. At a ball, a man pours poison into Beverly’s drink. Upon returning to her home, Peter comes up to see her and the two make love. Unfortunately, she dies almost instantly. Heartbroken, Peter decides to leave for good. As he is on the Brooklyn Bridge ready to leave, Pearly and his men surround the horse and man. Peter knows that he is doomed and sends the horse to fly away. Peter is attacked by Pearly and head butted a few times. Peter is stunned, beaten and in bad shape. Peter is left to wander the streets of New York for a century, suffering from amnesia, while drawing a picture of a red headed woman on the pavements.
In 2014, a strange twist of fate sees Peter meeting a girl named Abby and her mother, Virginia. He also happens to find the “City of Justice” plaque from the model sailboat – the very one that his parents placed him in so he could live in America. Probing further, he finds out that the Theatre of the Coheeries was founded by Isaac Penn. It was dedicated to his late daughter, Beverly. He makes his way to the library and finds Virginia working there. The magic of modern technology allows Virginia to help Peter find out his past history and to find out who he was by using photos and archives. While at the library, he meets Willa who is the boss of Virginia. Willa just happens to be the younger sister of Beverly Penn. While they are making progress on Peter’s past life, Virginia’s daughter, Abby, has a seizure. It is made known to Peter that she has cancer. Recalling the conversation long ago with Beverly about miracles, he believes that Abby is his miracle and convinces Virginia that he can save her.
Remember our good friend, Pearly? Yes, he’s alive and kicking! He also finds out that Peter is alive and with Virginia and Abby. What happens next? Pearly’s men are sent in pursuit to Virginia’s apartment, where Peter, Abby and Virginia take off to the rooftop. The beautiful horse comes back and saves the three of them. The fly to the Lake of the Coheeries but now Pearly has become a mortal man, so that he is able to pursue Peter. I must say that the horse is my favourite character in the story because he totally dispatches all of those gangsters! Peter and Pearly have a fight to the death: Peter stabs Pearly with the plaque (“City of Justice”) and turns into solid ice. He is then able to save Abby. Peter visits Beverly’s grave one last time and together with the horse, flies off to the stars.
While not the most sweeping of love stories, I didn’t mind watching on my flight. The only thing I didn’t agree with was casting Will Smith as Lucifer; I just couldn’t take him seriously. I did like the pairing of Jessica Finlay Brown and Colin Farrell. They really did an excellent job of showing the depth of their love, even if it was for a fleeting time.
Winter’s Tale premieres on Saturday, November 01 2014 and plays throughout the month on HBO and HBO2 or find it on HBOGo.