Tristan & Isolde

Bomb Rating: 

Has there ever been a female character in the history of film who was happy at the prospect of being married off? It really does seem that once some uninformed dad decides to marry off his daughter, be he a king or simply some guy in need of money, all kinds of bad things happen. Even in the 7th century, you'd figure there'd be some kind of "For Dummies" book about how marrying off your daughter without asking her opinion is just a bad idea.

Of course, this movie is being made in the 21st century, which means that it's simply incumbent upon the filmmaker to stress -- to such a degree that everyone including women themselves starts wishing for women's rights to be repealed -- that women just weren't having any of it. And that point is stressed not because women back then were having none of it, but because women nowadays would have none of it.

So when King Donnchadh (David O'Hara) marries off his daughter, Isolde (Sophia Myles), she's not happy at all. Things get worse when she finds the British Tristan (James Franco) on the beach. Tristan's a little disoriented after being floated off to sea by his colleagues who thought he was dead. She nurses him back to health and they promptly boink, declare their love, and part ways after acknowledging that their love is a love that can never be, mainly because the Irish, who are in charge, and the Brits, who aren't, don't get along. There's also the problem that Tristan's British accent is so thin that Isolde may be utterly confused about his true country of origin, though I doubt that was director Kevin Reynolds' intended interpretation. However, given he's also directed "Robin Hood" with Kevin Costner, it is possible that confusion due to bad accents is a thematic device that he really cherishes.

Predictably, Tristan and Isolde part ways only to meet back up again when Tristan "wins" Isolde as the bride for his leader, Lord Marke (Rufus Sewell). Lord Marke is a kind man with one arm who really, really has a complex about it. He goes on and on about not being whole and you really just wish somebody would rip his other arm off so he'd shut the hell up. Anyway, both Tristan and Isolde feel kind of guilty about going behind Marke's back to boink in the woods, but they do it anyway.

Reynolds tries to bring a certain levity to the project. However, his idea of levity involves three things: overwrought music, James Franco staring into the middle of nowhere, and the kind of cinematography that makes one wish the director would get to the point. Unfortunately, getting to any point has never been one of Reynolds's strengths.

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