A 'Tale' That's A Labor Of Love, But Not A Complete Success

Book fans can be picky about how Hollywood treats their favorite reads. How does a new movie of Marc Helprin's Winter's Tale fare? (This story originally aired on Morning Edition on Feb. 17.)

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Book fans can be pretty picky about how Hollywood treats their favorite reads. And Hollywood can sometimes disappoint. Marc Helprin's "Winter's Tale" has been a favorite of readers since it was published in 1983. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has a review of how well it works as a movie.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Winter's Tale" is so clearly a labor of love for writer-director Akiva Goldsman, you'd like to be able to say it's a complete success. It isn't, but the fervor between stars Colin Farrell and "Downton Abbey's" Jessica Brown Findlay provides lush emotional magic. Goldsman, an Oscar winning screenwriter for "A Beautiful Mind," has drastically pared down Mark Helprin's massive novel. The film is set in New York, but in a parallel universe, where magic is possible. Protagonist Peter Lake, played by Farrell is a master thief, circa 1916, on the run from a former boss. When he attempts to rob a mansion, he meets Beverly, played by Findlay. She's wealthy, drop-dead gorgeous and suffering from a life threatening disease.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE)

JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY: (as Beverly) You have a gun there?

COLIN FARRELL: (as Peter) Right.

FINDLAY: (as Beverly) What are you doing here?

FARRELL: (as Peter) I was just robbing the place, you know.

FINDLAY: (as Beverly) Is that still your intention?

FARRELL: (as Peter) Nope. No, it isn't.

FINDLAY: (as Beverly) I suppose the polite thing to do would be to offer you a cup of tea.

TURAN: The strength of "Winter's Tale" is the real chemistry Findlay and Farrell create in their shamelessly romantic scenes together.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE)

FINDLAY: (as Beverly) What's the best thing you've ever stolen?

FARRELL: (as Peter) I'm beginning to think I haven't stolen it yet.

FINDLAY: (as Beverly)Aren't you the charmer?

TURAN: Once "Winter's Tale's" convoluted plot leaves this couple, much of the magic leaves with it. Many of the other actors, including Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, don't have a firm grasp on their parts or where they fit into this tale. Because it is fearlessly sincere and not totally successful, "Winter's Tale" is easy to mock. But its willingness to go all out in its quest for the grandest romantic gestures is admirable. Magic like that is hard to come by, both on screen and off.

MARTIN: Kenneth Turan is a film critic for MORNING EDITION and the L.A. Times.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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