Directed by Peter Chesholm, starring, John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon.

'Serendipity' arrives on these shores after a good showing at the US box office and it's not hard to understand its appeal. It is a homespun tale of romance, fate and honour set against that most hackneyed of backgrounds, Christmas.

The story is the tale of two strangers, Jonathan and Sara, whose paths cross in the middle of a crowded New York shop. They are immediately attracted to each other and spend the rest of the day and night together, talking into the early hours of the morning. But of course there is a twist. Both are in committed relationships, so they agree to leave their future in fate's hand, her placing her number in a book, which she sells on and he writing his number on a dollar bill which he spends. If they ever locate the other's number then it is meant to be.

As a no-brainer of a plot then, it really takes some beating. The appeal of a romantic comedy lies in the comedy, not the romance, as you know that these two must find each other. Yet the laughs are few and far between.

The characters are likeable enough. John Cusack sleepwalks through what is basically an older version of the character he played in 'Say Anything'. Kate Beckinsale is on slightly firmer ground than she was in 'Pearl Harbor', but not even they, nor the excellent Jeremy Piven, can save this Christmas turkey.

Think 'When Harry Met Sally' only twice as long, with only half the laughs. The script is awful, the direction is unimaginative and the only plus is the acting. Serendipity refers to a fortunate discovery made by accident. Seeing this film is more like an unfortunate discovery - one which lasts for over two hours.

John Raftery