Sunday, February 16, 2014

Akiva Goldsman's Winter's Tale a bad, bad theological film

Akiva Goldsman-directed Winter's Tale has formidable star cast led by Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell, Will Smith, Eva St.Marie (the grand old lady who was the captivating heroine of such classic movies like On the Waterfront), and the extremely beautiful British actress Jessica Brown Findlay and Jennifer Connelly. Goldsman has done wonderful films like A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man. But Winter's Tale turns out to be a silly film which is lovingly and richly photographed.
The problem does not seem to be the fact that it has a vague supernatural element -- which is of course not an unusual thing in Hollywood films, a fact not noted by many film-lovers in India -- and that it does carry the theological motif of Lucifer and the fight between good and evil.
What Goldsman fails to do is to weave it properly into the characters and tales. The attempt to let the theology work out in the lives of ordinary people without them being fully aware of it, while there is at least one group which is consciously playing Lucifer's gang in the real world turns out to be a credulous strand. And then there is the other irritating part of this film -- the over-wordiness. The dialogues pretend to be dramatic and poetic and they end up being pompous. A case of bad Milton.
Jessical Brown Findlay as Beverly Penn is exquisite in her looks and her English accent but her coy role becomes cloying because the tragedy of her state is overstated. Crowe as Lucifer's agent and Will Smith as the modern-day fallen Archangel turns out to be comical with the affected dialogues and acting. Director Goldsman must be of the view that the devil is comical in the good old literary tradition, and less of a menace. In trying to show the continuity of the theological dilemma of the devil and evil, Goldsman violates the general principle of chronological time, and his introduction of the divine spark in the form of a horse remains an interesting magical device and nothing more.

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