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Winter's Tale

Winter's Tale title card

Year - 2014
Studio - Village Roadshow Pictures, Warner Bros., Weed Road Pictures
Stars - Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Will Smith, Eva Marie Saint
Director - Akiva Goldsman
Writing Credits - Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Mark Helprin (novel)
Music - Rupert Gregson-Williams, Hans Zimmer


When Peter Lake's (Colin Farrell) parents try to emigrate to the United States in the late 19th century, they are turned away at Ellis Island for health reasons. Desperately wanting their infant child to have an opportunity denied them, they lower him to the sea in a tiny boat as they ship began its return to Europe. Peter is found and raised by criminals who teach him their trade. Their leader is the sinister Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) who demands total allegiance from his followers. As a young man, Peter betrays Soames, who is then determined to find and kill him. His mob corners Peter in a narrow street, but there he finds a beautiful white horse who, understanding Peter's plight, magically carries him off to safety.

Attempting to burglarize a mansion, Peter is surprised to find the lovely Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay) alone in the unheated home. She reveals that she suffers from consumption and needs to stay as cool as possible, and that she will likely die within a year. Peter is very taken with the frail young woman, and she reacts to his confession about being a burglar with good humor.

The demonic Pearly Soames intuits that, to catch Peter, he must find a red-haired girl who has captivated him. His minions locate Beverly and Pearly is about to kill her, when Peter arrives on the white horse and spirits her away. They ride up a frozen river to the family estate north of the city. Beverly's father, Isaac Penn (William Hurt), a publishing tycoon, interrogates Peter and is impressed with his candid responses. Beverly's little sister Willa (Mckayla Twiggs) shows Peter a bed in the wintry garden, making him promise that, if Beverly dies, he must place her there, kiss her, and she will awaken.

Winter's Tale poster

Meanwhile, Soames, still determined to punish Peter, is revealed to be a Hellish demon. He goes to the "Judge" (Will Smith) who he refers to as Lucifer, and formerly requests permission to travel to the estate in the north, which is outside of his jurisdiction. He argues that Peter's destiny is to be save the life of a a young red-haired woman and that by killing Beverly, he can destroy Peter. But the Judge denies his request.

When the furnace boiler in the mansion's basement is dangerously close to exploding, Peter's mechanical skills allow him to release the pressure and save the home. The relieved Isaac hugs him as a son.

Beverly and Peter go to a New Year's Ball. While they dance, a waiter, bribed by Pearly, puts poison in her champagne. They return home, make love, she dies in his arms. He takes her lifeless body to the garden bed, but his kiss fails to bring her back to life.

Devastated, he returns to the city. Pearly Soames and his mob find him; Soames beats him and throws him from the Brooklyn Bridge.

When Peter crawls from the river, he is reincarnated one hundred years into the future, but he has no memory of who he is. He wanders the streets, obsessed with an image of a red-haired girl. Eventually his memory returns, but Pearly, alive in the city as a powerful gangster, senses his presence. The Judge explains to him that it was Beverly's miracle that allowed Peter to be reincarnated. He grants Pearly's request to pursue Peter beyond the city limits, with the understanding that the loser of their fight will die the "true death."

Meanwhile, a sympathetic journalist, Virginia Gamely (Jennifer Connelly) befriends him and assists him in accessing microfiche records of the Penn family. They find a photograph of Peter and Beverly from one hundred years ago. Astonished, Virginia takes him to the office of the CEO of the Penn publishing empire. Peter immediately recognizes her as the grown Willa (Eva Marie Saint). That evening Peter joins Virginia at her home for dinner, and meets her young daughter, Abby (Ripley Sobo), who is dying with cancer. Peter realizes that she is the red-headed girl that has occupied his consciousness, and that it is his purpose to save her. They hear the sound of Pearly and his gang approaching, and run to the building roof, where the white horse awaits. The horse flies them away, with the gang in hot pursuit in their cars.

They arrive at the ice covered Penn mansion, but the gang's cars arrive on the ice-covered river. The horse smashes the ice, causing Pearly's gang to fall through and drown. Peter and Pearly fight, Pearly dies and disintegrates. They rush the dying Abby to the garden bed, where Peter desperately kisses her forehead and begs for her to live. Abby awakens, apparently healthy.

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