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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.77%
Worth A Look: 10.64%
Just Average42.55%
Pretty Crappy: 31.91%
Sucks: 2.13%

5 reviews, 17 user ratings

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Tristan + Isolde
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by Doug Bentin

"Weepy, yes. Tragic, no."
3 stars

I donít think that this new picture knows what it wants to be, and thatís reflected in the way the title is presented. Most of the time you see it written this way: "Tristan & Isolde." But the title on the screen is "Tristan + Isolde."

This new version, adapted from Celtic legend, of an old tale of doomed love is a two-hankie weepie for some audiences and a rousing examination of politics and battle strategy from the Dark Ages for others. The Irish hate the English. So what else is new?

In a raid on the English coast, young Tristanís parents are killed but the boy is rescued by Lord Marke (Rufus Sewell), who loses a hand. He takes the boy home and raises him along with his own sisterís son. The boys become best friends and if you canít foretell rivalry ahead you need to re-take Ancient Legends 101.

After another raid nine years later, Tristan is thought to be dead. He washes up on the Irish shore and is nursed back to help by Isolde, daughter of the Irish king. She is later given to Marke to be his bride but she and Tristan are in love and problems of loyalty to friend, benefactor, and king arise.

The plot is both complicated and simple. The movie offers a crash course in Dark Age politicsónot so different than oursóbut the main thing is to remember whom is in love with whom, and thatís not too difficult to follow. Itís like this: Tristan loves Isolde, Isolde loves Tristan, Marke loves Isolde, Tristan loves Marke, Mark loves Tristan, Isolde loves Marke, but not, you know, ďlovesĒ loves him. See? Easy.

When Isolde is given in marriage to Tristanís friend and protector Lord Marke as a peace offering, trouble emerges from loveís young loins.

James Falco ("Spiderman") is so woodenly noble and dutiful he acts like he has the village Maypole shoved up his fundament. He never lets us see why the tempestuous Isolde falls for him so hard.

Sophia Mylesís Isolde is a young woman who wants to break away from court ridigity. Myles has had a series of secondary leads and is ready to break out. Sheíll be along soon in Terry Zwigoffís "Art School Confidential" and Iím eager to see what the director of "Bad Santa" and "Ghost World" will draw out of her. Seven or eight years ago, Kate Winslet would have gotten the Isolde role, and I suspect Myles will follow a career path similar to Winsletís.

Sewellís Lord Marke is the filmís most interesting character. Marke is forced by custom and position to be the strong, valiant leader when, with Isolde by his side, he wants to live and love peacefully. Heís far from being the cruelly disappointed King Mark I remember from childhood readings of this story, and what the film loses in tragedy by making him a nice guy in an impossible situation it gains in a warmth we never sense in Falcoís Tristan.

I had been warned of the filmís bloodiness but, despite a lot of whacking away with swords, axes and clubs, there is very little blood on screen and none that splatters everywhere. The production design is based on real Dark Age castles, as often made of wood as stone. Director Kevin Reynolds, picking up a project Ridley Scott originated 30 years ago and never got around to making himself, holds it together.

I just wish the script had opted for full-bore tragedy instead of just a sad love story. Maybe tragedy is too stylized for modern audiences, but they can empathize with sad.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13735&reviewer=405
originally posted: 01/26/06 15:17:12
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User Comments

9/30/08 Mia Mital One of the best I've ever seen! It had a LotR feel, but less mystical and more hardcore. 5 stars
12/11/06 Angela Saunders Not typically predictable for this type of movie, overall great film! 4 stars
12/10/06 Wendy Straw Loved it...Watched it twice in 2 days 5 stars
12/09/06 varun mishra its fabulous..wot mor 2 say..it has evry thin..movie nvr lost its rhythm..war n luv 2gthr.. 5 stars
12/07/06 John MacGillivray fine film 4 stars
5/07/06 jeanne Any film that paints Rufus Sewell as the booby prize is demented. The man is smokin' hot! 2 stars
5/04/06 ES Excellent action and great visuals but way too slow and choppy as hell 3 stars
5/01/06 taz awsome film loved the wedding especially. Worth seeing again and the ending was very deep 5 stars
4/22/06 Mase Watchable nothing more, nothing fresh but I enjoyed being taken to this time period. 3 stars
1/22/06 Soha Molina Bad movie 1 stars
1/20/06 John pretty far fetched story 2 stars
1/19/06 Amanda The chemistry and editing could have been better, and Franco added the emotion it lacked. 4 stars
1/18/06 jghfg kkjh 5 stars
1/16/06 Lauren i thought it was wonderful...definately the best love and war story in a while 5 stars
1/16/06 Darcy Koscal A great film...but a really depressing ending!! 4 stars
1/15/06 Perry Mason Much better than I thought it would be. 4 stars
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  13-Jan-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Apr-2006



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