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New York Winter's Tale, A (DQ)


Stars: Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint, Mckayla Twiggs, Will Smith, Kevin Durand, Ripley Sobo, Graham Greene

Director: Akiva Goldsman

Where to begin? Well, there's daft, there's exceptionally daft, and then there's A New York Winter's Tale. The opening narration of this barmy romantic fantasy does not, indeed, bode well: 'What if the light from afar doesn't come from stars, but from our wings as we turn into angels?' Yeah, right: nice try.

Cut to the plot: denied access to the US in 1895, two would-be immigrants put their baby in a model ship they've stolen and lower him into the waters off Ellis Island. Forward to 1916, and the kid has grown up on the streets of New York, acquired an Irish brogue and turned into Colin Farrell with a truly annoying haircut.

A petty thief and safecracker, Farrell's Peter Lake is vengefully pursued by his ex-boss, Pearly Soames (it's better than Pearly Gates but not much), played by Russell Crowe with a bogus Irish accent. He's ostensibly the local gangland boss, but in reality some kind of immortal demon, answerable only to Lucifer (a voice-altered Will Smith) whose oche he has to stand behind to make requests.

Pearly is also out to kill red-haired Beverley Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay, Downton Abbey's doomed Lady Sybil, in a ho-hum Hollywood debut) who's dying from consumption (TB), before Lake, who's met and fallen for her, can work his 'one miracle' to save her.

Don't worry: it gets sillier. There's a winged horse and Findlay's seven-year-old sister (Mckayla Twiggs) who grows up (as Eva Marie Saint) to be editor of a national newspaper, which at 105 is no mean feat. By this time Lake has landed in 2014 but the film still hasn't taken off. Its heavy-handed fantasy is ridiculously unbelievable, its romance drippy, its dialogue a treasury of arch pretentiousness. It has to get one star for barefaced cheek, but you should probably find something better to do.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 18 Feb 2014