14 July 2010 | timothy-tanner
A great love story competently told.
I hadn't read or seen any version of the tale before, though I knew it was one of the great British romances. It was a film that didn't quite fulfil it's potential, whose parts were better then the conclusion. That isn't to say it wasn't a nice film, it was a competent romance with some sad moments, some great lines and moments of sweetness, finished by a very sad and well done ending. The productions values were good, it's script was good and has some wonderful lines, indeed the sweet caresses were made so much sweeter by the words between Isolde and Tristan. The best bit was the acting, there were a lot of good actors in it who filled their parts well, Mark Strong as Lord Wictred, Henry Cavill as Melot, Bronagh Gallagher as the maid Bragnae. to a lesser extent David O'Hara as the Irish King (great voice, not always the best facial expressions) among others.
Two stars for me: Rufus Sewell and Sophia Myles. Wasn't surprised by Sewell's performance, been a huge fan of his for awhile. As Lord Marke of Cornwall, he gave a portrayal that made me feel for the man and made me believe that he was a real person, barely put a foot wrong. Myles was more of a surprise, but she excelled herself here as Isolde. She looked exactly the right age, acted the right age and like Sewell, made me feel the emotions of her character, it was easy to see why some of the characters loved Isolde.
The flaws? The big one is Tristan, played by James Franco. When making an epic love story, the lovers need to have a spark and need to be performed brilliantly. Myles did her part but Franco was erratic, he had his moments were he delivered his lines well or made the right face, indeed he was good at the end but most of it? A blank expressionless face and spent part of it speculating that Sewell or Cavill could have done a better job as the hero. I would also say the middle part dragged on a bit too long and I found myself losing sympathy for Isolde, a shorter film might have made things better. In the end it was competent but felt rather flat.