The love story should be the heart of Winter’s Tale, but the
movie is frequently caught up in the more supernatural elements of the
story, and everything is consumed in its spiritual mumbo-jumbo. For
example, at least two different characters are pressed into service to
explain that Lake’s horse is “actually a dog”—specifically Athansor, the
“Dog of the East”—that just sometimes takes the form of a horse. This
information never comes to bear in the rest of the entire movie, as
Athansor never appears as a dog; it’s just magical nonsense.
The magical elements of the story come at the expense of developing
real characters. By the time a second set of major characters is
introduced in the 2014 timeline, Winter’s Tale doesn’t have
enough time left to get invested in them as people. Instead, they become
just another set of mystical objects in Lake’s quest for miracles.