DIRECTOR: Akiva Goldsman
CAST: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown-Findlay, John Hurt, Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Will Smith
CLASSIFICATION: 10-12PG SV
RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes
IF THE idea of Colin Farrell (pictured) riding off to save the day on a white horse appeals, then this film has found its audience.
If not, read no further.
Screenwriter (he won an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind but then he did Batman and Robin, so best described as uneven rather than consistently good) Akiva Goldsman makes his directorial debut with his adaptation of Mark Helprin’s novel of the same name.
A project seven years in the making, it is a mix of plot-ridden fantasy and muddled narrative with a broad streak of sweeping romance running through every scene.
The script is iffy but it just looks so gorgeous.
While the book is a fairy family saga that took place in an Edwardian-type alternative universe New York, the film tries for a more traditional, reality- based setting with, unfortunately, disastrous results.
The first words from the narrator may be that magic is all around us and time and space are not what they appear to be, but even within the film’s own reference frame, the ideas being bandied about don’t work.
Farrell is roguish thief Peter Lake who breaks into a New York mansion in 1916 only to run into one of the occupants and fall in love with her. He has a good chemistry with Jessica Brown Findlay (the late, lamented Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey), who plays the consumptive and clever Beverley Penn, but she soon dies (unfair to the audience really because their interaction is touching) and all the while Russell Crowe is trying to kill him.
Crowe is Pearly Soames, the bad guy on the black horse who hates miracles. Er. Ja.
Fast forward a hundred years and both are still around and now there’s Jennifer Connelly as a food writer with a cute little daughter, who happens to be sick.
Now if you throw all logic out the window and simply wallow in the imagery presented and the enchanting score, it is lovely. The atmospheric cinematography makes excellent use of soft lighting.
But there’s not enough character- isation to make you care about the people, the plot holes and continuity faults are irritating and the context is not detailed enough to make sense.
A total suspension of belief is required because your brain says it’s not working while your heart wants to say, “but I want this to work”.
And yes. I am a sucker for a horse with wings.
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