tristanrating-3.0The proto-"Romeo & Juliet", Tristan + Isolde is the tale of its young namesakes, Briton and Celt, who fall in love despite the war between their peoples and are, then, torn apart by her marriage to Tristan's adoptive father.

A career-long dream project of Ridley Scott, he produced this very decent though not tremendously compelling love story, carried mainly on the backs of its leads, James Franco and Sophia Myles. Franco is obviously well-known from a bevy of parts over the past several years, most prominently in the Spider-Man franchise. The beautiful Sophia Myles probably stands out the most to American viewers as Erika, Kate Beckinsale's blonde vampire friend in Underworld.

Rufus Sewell lends some extra weight to the proceedings, though I feel bad for the put-upon man. It seems like he never gets to play a good or happy character. In this film, he plays the dour and dark (but kind) Marke, who took in Tristan as a child after the murder of his parents. Tristan becomes more than a son to him and grows into a great war leader. After his apparent killing, actually stunned by a paralyzing toxin, Tristan's given a quick funeral and is pushed out to sea, only to wash up alive on the banks of Ireland to be nursed by to health by the princess Isolde, who never reveals who she really is. He comes back to a happy welcome from his family and heads back to Ireland to win his father a bride in a contest of arms, uniting Ireland and Britain, and to find his lady love. Of course, there's the damnable discovery that, once he's won his father's bride, he finds out it's his lover.

His father, Sewell, is of course good to her and loving, but is hurt deeply by the affair and there's a certain bleakness in the performance. I'd love to see Sewell play a hero (or at least someone happy) again, as I've never seen such a thing since Dark City. He's been nothing but pain, darkness, and anger. I don't know if he searches it out or it's just luck, but he needs to freshen up his prospects and get a good lead again.

Well, he adds some gravity to the film, though Franco and Myles do their part. The film is a bit slow at parts and never really builds to any interesting climax, though, so it somewhat detracts from the interesting build-up coming throughout, but the movie was always billed and sold as more of a romance, so I can't say I'm entirely surprised.

All in all, amusing enough to watch but of no exceptional merit.

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