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Love vs. duty

January 17, 2006|by NELL BARBER and FEDORA COPLEY

"Tristan & Isolde" tells the legendary tale of two lovers from enemy sides. Tristan (James Franco), an English warrior, gets injured in battle and is thought dead. When his boat washes up on Ireland's coast, he is found by Isolde (Sophia Myles), the daughter of England's enemy - King Donnchadh (David O'Hara), the king of Ireland. Isolde hides Tristan and heals him secretly. Their romance is torn apart by duty, honor and betrayal.

Rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences and some sexuality. 125 minutes

Nell: While I enjoyed watching Kevin Reynolds' "Tristan & Isolde," I found the plot to be clichd and unoriginal. It's historically accurate - the story takes place in the British Isles during the dark ages, after the fall of Rome - but it's pretty much how I expected it to be.

Fedora: You'll always have chichd aspects in a tale of two lovers. But Reynolds takes a traditional tale and makes it juicier - more modern dialogue, good acting and interesting characters.

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Nell: The dialogue seems weak at times, though it is good. The acting is alright. Tristan and Isolde have the usual, unnatural amount of courage and nobility. And, a plus side - very attractive actors play them both.

Fedora: They use a few facial expressions too many times, but overall the acting portrays a passionate, almost painful relationship, which is touching. I enjoy the supporting cast as well, from Isolde's nagging lady-in-waiting (Bronagh Gallagher) to King Marke, Tristan's father-figure (Rufus Sewell).

Nell: The supporting cast definitely adds to the film.

The costumes are different from those of other movies set in the same era. I like them. Another good thing is the beautiful scenery, shot on location in Ireland and the Czech Republic.

Fedora: The colors of the movie - greys, browns, blues - add a lot. The director preferred neutral tones to bold colors.

One thing disappoints me: character development. There is little to none. The characters are fairly constant, which, although perhaps realistic, is not as exciting in a movie.

Nell: The characters don't seem to do much beyond fight, betray one another, and have secret liaisons. They don't really seem to have any interest in improving themselves as people. The fight scenes aren't very graphic, which is good, because there isn't a lot of blood and gore.

Fedora: It is a sweet love story with some surprising qualities, but not one to spend $8 on.

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