There’s a gorgeous young girl (Jessica Brown Findlay) who’s dying of tuberculosis but looks consistently gorgeous and never, ever coughs. There’s a violent gangster (Russell Crowe) who’s favourite dish is South African – emphasised in his delivery – Spotted Eagle Owl, and whose own Irish accent is so wonky it’s like he’s trying to tell a bad joke in an empty bar at the end of a long binge-drinking session.
And there’s a dark spiritual entity (Will Smith) who wears the same T-shirt for eternity and is so powerful that he can never leave a room under a bridge where he spends his time reading Stephen Hawking books. Oh, and there’s a flying horse.
Ostensibly, Winter’s Tale is a fairy tale, a fantasy romance in which demons and angels are as real as grumpy fathers-in-law (William Hurt) and weather cold enough to create an ice layer on the Hudson River thick enough to support half the cast of this film.
Perhaps it made sense in a miniseries-length, unedited version, but this final cut by first-time director Akiva Goldsman is terribly uneven and the apparent strategy of asking his cast to aim at “overwrought”, a target Crowe in particular smashes straight through, was ill-advised.
There may be a spark of appeal for those who thought Titanic was a documentary. Everyone else, avoid.