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Film Review: A New York Winter's Tale

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There’s been a lot of criticism thrown at this film and now I have seen it, I can see why. It is rather bonkers, but also imaginative and strange and sometimes quite wonderful. And imaginative, strange and wonderful films sometimes get universally misunderstood by audiences and critics alike.

To enjoy A New York Winter’s Tale, and it really is an enjoyable film, you must submit yourself to its weird sense of fun and wonder. To be honest, it would have been better served released at Christmas – not just because it is wintery and snow-covered, but because that magical sense of fun and romance is probably at its highest when the tree lights are sparkling and the mince pies are being baked. Now, in the rain-drenched post-Christmas depression of mid-February, it may be a tough pill to swallow.

Set in a magical-realist version of New York across many years, the film features a flying horse, a never-aging Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay from Downton Abbey, a villainous Russell Crowe and Will Smith as Lucifer.

A professional burglar named Peter Lake, played by Farrell, is in love with a beautiful young heir (Findlay) who has TB. She could die at any moment, and Peter knows this, but there love is so strong they share many wonderful experiences together during a snowy December in New York. While all this is happing there are forces at work to destroy him (that’s where Crowe comes in). And there is the most outrageous, weirder-than-weird turn from Will Smith you will ever see.

I don’t want to ruin the magic of this film for anyone, so I won’t go into the plot in any more detail. I fully appreciate that many will go to see A New York Winter’s Tale and dismiss it as utter garbage and take glee in sneering and laughing at its dedication of the bizarre and the complete seriousness with which it treats its subject matter. But there will be some who soak it up like sunlight and entirely buy into its sweeping romance and warm, fantastical heart. For me, it didn’t all click: the structure is a little clunky and I found it a bit too long. But there is much to relish and cherish here and I urge anyone with a generous heart to give it a go. You may like it even more than I did.

A New York Winter’s Tale (2014), directed by Akiva Goldmans, is released in the UK by Warner Bros. Pictures, Certificate 12A. 

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