Starring: James Franco, Sophia Myles
Release Year: 2006
McCain Library Call #: DVD 2397
Quick Review: good for a rainy day
Let’s take a step back to 5th century England, shall we? Tristan and Isolde, directed by Kevin Reynolds, was marketed as a sweeping, epic, Dark Ages version of Romeo and Juliet. While the film isn’t the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen, the cinematography, costuming, and set design are fantastic. The story, which at times borders on the melodramatic, goes a little something like this: 1. Tristan meets Isolde, 2. Tristan and Isolde can’t be together, 3. shit gets crazy.
Tristan (James Franco) is the adopted son of the one of the kings of the scattered British tribes. And like all main men in this type of film, he’s broody and really good with a sword. While fighting mercenaries from the big, bad Irish king, Tristan is wounded and they think he’s died. Except, oops! he’s not actually dead. Not knowing this, he is set in a funeral boat and they shoot flaming arrows at the boat as it floats away. When his boat is washed ashore in Ireland (hey, I thought he was on fire..?), princess Isolde (Sophie Myles) finds him and nurses him back to health. They fall in love, but Tristan has to return to England. A lot of confusing political scenes ensue and suddenly Isolde is married to Tristan’s adopted father, the king (gasp!). More confusing politics happens, and Tristan and Isolde sneak around together behind the king’s back until the tricky Irish king (Isolde’s father) attacks.
The acting of the film is good enough, but certainly not award-quality. There are times when Franco’s character has to act really angsty because he’s jealous that his adopted father, the king, is shagging Isolde–however, Franco’s face just looks like a pouty raisin. I think that this film’s major strength is the visual aesthetic. The costumes rock, the landscapes are lovely, and the action scenes are pretty darn cool. Not to mention, Henry Cavill (the hottie from I Capture the Castle) plays Tristan’s friend. All in all, not bad.