Colin Farrell’s age-defying master thief and Jessica Brown Findlay’s dying heiress are the star-blessed lovers in this flaky romantic fantasy, which spans three time periods and is eye-wateringly ludicrous in each of them.
In 1895 a young Russian immigrant couple are turned back from Ellis Island because the husband has TB – but not before they have managed to launch their Moses-like baby son to a safe haven in the US by means of a model yacht.
In 1916 the baby has grown into Farrell’s twinkling charmer Peter Lake, who falls for Brown Findlay’s consumptive rich girl Beverly Penn after breaking into her family’s Park Avenue mansion. The fact that she’s dying isn’t the only bar to their love. He has fallen foul of his criminal mentor, Russell Crowe’s Pearly Soames, who isn’t just a vengeful mobster with an army of nattily dressed henchmen but a demon to boot.
A century later, following interventions from an angelic flying horse and the Devil (Will Smith, ghastly), Peter is somehow still around, but so is the implacably evil Pearly, as desperate as ever to stop Peter from fulfilling his destiny, which now involves journalist Jennifer Connolly and her cancer-stricken daughter.
An adaptation of a bestselling doorstop of a novel by Mark Halprin, A New York Winter’s Tale is the directing debut of A Beautiful Mind screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. Steeping his film in magic-realist mawkishness, he’s clearly aiming to wring audience tears by fashioning a miracle-laden story of timeless love.
There certainly won’t be a dry eye in the house but the moisture is much more likely to be tears of laughter, unless you’re one of those still mourning Brown Findlay’s exit from Downton Abbey and keen to see Lady Sybil falling for another lower-class lover with an entrancing Irish brogue.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 118 mins. Director Akiva Goldsman.
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