Directed by James Mangold, starring Hugh Jackman, Meg Ryan, Liev Schreiber and Breckin Meyer.

As director of unrequited love story 'Heavy' and police drama 'Cop Land', James Mangold has shown himself to be no slouch at character-driven movies. But having given Angelina Jolie her Oscar-winning turn in 'Girl, Interrupted', Mangold now has now roasted his first turkey with 'Kate and Leopold'.

Ryan plays Kate McKay, the advertising executive whose career now means that there's no time for romance. Upstairs lives former boyfriend Stuart (Schreiber), an intellectual oddball who dumped her in favour of his quest for scientific immortality. And somehow he manages it - finding a time portal back to 1876 New York on top of the Brooklyn Bridge.

But after his first sortie back to the 19th Century, Stuart arrives home with an uninvited guest in the form of bachelor boy and budding inventor Leopold (Jackman), The Third Duke of Albany. Not believing the first word out of Stuart's mouth about his new discovery and roommate, Kate and brother Charlie (Meyer) assume that Leopold is either a master bluffer or an out of work actor who is so deep in the method he's refusing to come out. But when Stuart has an accident and Leopold is left to his own devices, Kate begins to realise that there's a lot more to the new arrival.

Jackman was nominated for a Golden Globe for his turn as the mannerly stranger in a strange land and his performance is the only thing that keeps this film from sinking into the truly dire. In establishing such a lofty pretence as time travel, Mangold (who also co-wrote the script) then trots out a uninspiring love story which fails to play-up the cultural differences between the characters. There are plenty of plot holes too, (often as big as the time portal Jackman fell through), the finest of which is the fact that in 1876 Leopold can discuss 'La Bohème ' at length - an opera that was first performed in 1897.

Such carelessness would be somehow forgivable if Mangold had pandered to comedy and given the always watchable Jackman some great lines to keep you smiling. Instead he's forced to go through the motions with a charisma-free Ryan, whose excitement about the Duke's arrival is on a par with the feeling you'd get if a stranger asked if the seat beside you was free in a coffee-shop. At this stage she's worn out the winsome and wanting role and needs to find gutsier material to turn her attention towards.

Harry Guerin