Unbelievable Winter’s Tale is forgettable

A review by Brenda Daniels

Winter’s Tale is a fantasy romance set in a wintry New York. The action spans over a century with several characters appearing throughout the time without ageing. The tale is a circular battle between good and evil complete with a magic horse, a Judge with Satanic qualities (Will Smith) and a host of demons, the most determined one, Pearly Soames, played by Russell Crowe.

The centrepiece of the film is the love story of a seemingly common thief, Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), and Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), a rich but dying young woman.

A secondary love story is between the same Peter Lake many decades later and a little girl called Abby, who is dying of cancer. As Pearly tries to destroy any beauty in these relationships, Peter works to fulfil his destiny by helping Beverly and Abby avoid their mortality.

Farrell, who has starred in action films like In Bruges and London Boulevard, does well in this romantic role; the love scene between Peter and Beverly is particularly tender. He also seems to have a rapport with children, and his interactions, firstly with Beverly’s young sister Young Willa (Mckayla Twiggs), and then with Abby (Ripley Sobo), are lovely to watch.

Long after a gripping tale has finished, I may grapple with the story, delving into the characters’ traits, sometimes imagining myself living out their lives. I didn’t with Winter’s Tale. I couldn’t identify enough with the characters to care about them.

The fantasy elements, too, are just too unbelievable to be enjoyable. Despite some good relationship scenes, Winter’s Tale is a forgettable film that will not appeal enough to adults or children to be enjoyable for either audience.

Winter’s Tale opens at NuMetro Theatres in South Africa on Friday 28 February. It runs for 118 minutes and is rated 10DSV.

Colin Farrell, leadin man in Winter's Tale (Source: creative commons)

Colin Farrell, leadin man in Winter’s Tale (Source: creative commons)

 

Hairstyles show deeper meaning in American Hustle

A review by Brenda Daniels

American Hustle has been nominated for Best Picture and various other awards for the upcoming Oscar ceremony on 3 March, so I went along to the South African preview to see what all the fuss was about.

The film, set in New Jersey in the 1970s, tells the story of con man, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), and his partner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). The two meet and become lovers and then, posing as a Briton with “banking connections”, Sydney helps Irving take his underhand dealings to a new level. Caught out by FBI agent, Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper), they are lured into an even bigger world of crime in an effort to catch dirty politicians and the mafia red-handed.

Cooper brought a certain manic amusement to his role as an agent determined to make it big and I enjoyed this. The hoodwinked politician, Mayor Carmine Polito, played by Jeremy Renner, had a certain endearing vulnerability to him, and Irving, convincingly played by Bale, had a soft side to him, exhibiting patience with his dumb wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), and affection for his young son.

The film opens with Irving working on an elaborate “comb-over” hairdo, and most of the characters sported hairstyles that required some work. This aspect seemed to mirror the characters’ fake lifestyles, and highlighted their weak efforts at, now and then, wanting to “be real” with each other.

Apart from these mildly redeeming qualities the characters and action in American Hustle are relentlessly seedy.

It was hard, and in fact quite boring, to enjoy a two-hour film that gave no interesting message, showed no characters I could identify with enough to care about, and provided no relief from the dirt. Whilst I don’t like the 70s era with its iconic clothing, music, coiffeurs and American mobsters, there are viewers who do. They’ll get plenty in this film.

American Hustle opens at Ster Kinekor in South Africa on 28 February. It carries an age restriction of 16LS.

Jennifer Lawrence (left) and Amy Adams in a scene of American Hustle (Source: Creative Commons)

Jennifer Lawrence (left) and Amy Adams in a scene of American Hustle (Source: Creative Commons)