This is a tale of the enduring power of love, of a white winged horse, and of a little red-haired girl. In a month when romantic movies are often trite, trivial and predictable, this one is anything but. It’s a mystical love story that transcends space and time with a dashing hero, a doomed princess and the transforming power of a kiss. But it’s also the story of a man who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for immortality and the possibility of revenge. And sometimes writer-director Akiva Goldsman can’t decide which story he wants to tell. If you can overlook the often-hokey revenge story – and focus on the sometimes-sappy romantic one – you’ll find this a more enjoyable movie.
It’s ambitious and uneven, but it gets better as it goes along. With its biblical beginning, science fiction ending, and a fairy tale in between, this film is filled with too many intriguing ideas to fully explore. It’s a compelling argument why one person shouldn’t both write and direct a movie, as Goldsman has done here. The whole movie has trouble finding its pace, sustaining its focus, and explaining its plot. Its middle is a kind of “dog’s breakfast” of story elements exploring different ideas. But its moral is a good one: What if, when we give a gift, we get a greater one in return? And in a time when too many movies are filled with cruelty, this movie tells a gentle story with an ending that’s uplifting and satisfying. I’m just not sure it all needed to be this complex.