Here is something for incorrigible romantics, for all those who firmly believe in destiny’s love. Over the years, Akiva Goldsman has gained a reputation, proving himself in the film industry as a successful producer and capable screenwriter. Finally, he realized that the time had come to try out for the role of director. His directorial debut deals with the themes of love, touches on the eternal struggle between good and evil, discusses the miraculous ties that unite several human destinies into a harmonious whole. Also, some affirmative ideas, embodied through altruism and humanity, as well as the search for the meaning of life, run through the story.
He found inspiration to make a surreal film, set in the period from 1895 to the present, in an interesting novel by Mark Helprin. The main protagonist of this fairytale love story is Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a skilled thief who grew up in orphanages in New York. He is haunted by his former mentor, a ruthless demon, Pearly Soams (Russell Crowe), in charge of spreading evil in the area of this megalopolis. A sympathetic thief breaks into the house of a rich man with the intention of robbing her, but there things unexpectedly get out of control. He meets a 21-year-old red-haired beauty, Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), a wealthy daughter. From the first moment he saw it, Peter realized that something could be stolen from a thief. He feels that he has found fateful love, that an honest girl stole his heart.
Combining genres, where he tells us a melodramatic story in a fairy-tale atmosphere, spiced with a few horror ingredients and a thriller-set plot, the director obviously tried to arouse emotions in the audience. Maybe even to the heart, at least the more sentimental ones. The unusual screenwriting concept tends to lick the audience, practically in every frame. After all, the distribution was intentionally started somewhere for Valentine’s Day, and that is a clear parameter of how the film workers from Warner Bros. and to the collaborators from Village Roadshow Pictures the most important thing was that the film went well at the box office.
However, expectations were not met. The main reason for this is the questionable quality of what they offered. From a technical point of view, there are almost no objections. Mostly likable effects (scenes with a white horse are done correctly), precise photography (well-painted winter ambience), appropriately designed costumes that take into account different eras, a little make-up and discreetly created inconspicuous masks, jointly contribute to the film’s recognizable visual identity . The objection refers to an ambitiously adapted script, which failed to put fantasy and melodrama under the same mold, so that the plot does not have the necessary consistency. The slower rhythm, with a couple of stretched sequences, in order to promote the layering of the narrative, makes it difficult to follow, so it is difficult to stay focused for two whole hours.
The first-class acting ensemble promised a lot, but I get the impression that it was not up to the task. Colin Ferrell provided a satisfying performance, because the characters written in this way correspond to his acting sensibility. Anonymous Jessica Brown Findley, without much experience, presented her character solidly, stating that the camera exploited her beautiful face to the maximum. The rest of the cast is more or less inconspicuous, so it is evident that Russell Crowe has just left his job, while Will Smith is in a way parodying himself, interpreting the character of Lucifer (more precisely, the Judges as presented here).
I have to emphasize that music is perhaps the best thing in film. The suggestive musical arrangements, which were taken care of by the famous Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams, produce pleasant sounds, which undoubtedly pleases our ears. When the line is drawn, the impression is that this fairytale love story did not really meet high expectations, primarily due to the awkwardly worded script and somewhat unconvincing acting, but, not to be outdone, the film has its good sides, so romantic souls will probably find something here and to your liking.