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A Knight's Tale (PG-13)
Columbia Tristar
Official Site
Director: Brian Helgeland
Producers: Todd Black and Tim van Rellim
Written by: Brian Helgeland
Cast: Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany, Shannyn Sossamon, Alan Tudyk, Laura Fraser

Rating: out of 5


Youíve probably already heard about A Knight's Taleóa medireview tale of knights and ladies set to an inspiring soundtrack featuringÖ Queen? I know, I know, but itís not as bad as it seems.

I simply adored this film, but ever since I saw it, I find myself having to defend my opinion to the many naysayers out there. This is a great film, I swear! Believe me, you will enjoy it, no matter how silly and annoyingly anachronistic the trailers make it seem.

A Knight's Tale follows a young peasant, William Thatcher (Ledger) whose master Sir Ector dies minutes before a jousting match. Hungry and desperately needing the money, William decides to take Sir Ectorís place, violating strict rules of competition that allow only nobility to compete in the extremely popular sport. William wins and thus begins his jousting career and faÁade of life as Sir Olrich von Lichenstein. Along the way, William and his band of merry men, the passive Roland (Addy) and the hotheaded Wat (Tudyk), meet up with Chaucer (yes, THAT Chaucer, hilariously portrayed by Bettany) and a beautiful female blacksmith named Kate (Fraser).

Of course, as in every good fairy tale, there is also a beautiful lady and an archrival. The lady in question is Jocelyn, a sort of punk-rock princess with hair and makeup that belong more in Studio 54 than an English castle. Jocelyn is well portrayed by Shannyn Sossamon, a New York dj who was discovered and subsequently cast in A Knight's Tale, her first acting role. The archrival, played by bug-eyed Australian Sewell, is Count Adhemar, a vicious snob of a jouster, whose skill is unmatched until the arrival of William.

Overall, the acting in A Knight's Tale was superb, but Ledger and Bettany made the movie. Ledger, best known in the U.S. for starring opposite fellow Aussie Mel Gibson in last summerís The Patriot, is making quite a name for himself and the good press is well deserved. Ledger has a kind of screen magnetism and charisma reminiscent of Gibson or a young Tom Cruise (think Risky Business or Top Gun). You canít take your eyes off him, heís just that goodÖand Bettany almost stole the show from him! Iíll say it right now and stick by it: Paul Bettany is the next big comic talent. He had the audience in stitches the whole time with his hilarious portrayal of legendary poet Geoffrey Chaucer, here acting as Williamís herald. Bettany apparently conceived Chaucer as Ed McMahon meets WWF announceróalong with all the other anachronisms, this strange combination for a noble herald worked just fine and to wonderful results. Keep an eye out for Bettany in Ron Howardís upcoming A Beautiful Mind, alongside Russell Crowe. Iím telling you, when he hits, heíll hit big!

Now, to deal with the big hullabaloo this film is causing, the classic rock score along with medireview characters and action shouldnít work. In fact, it should be quite irritating and make you want to walk out of the theater. Donít ask how, but it works incredibly well and seems obvious that the filmmakers would use tunes from Queen and War to enhance jousting matches and courtly love. In fact, none of the anachronistic elements of the film (and there are many) should work as well as they do, but somehowÖ

Writer and director Helgeland definitely had a vision when he set out to make A Knight's Tale. Frankly, Iím surprised he got the green light to make the picture, but Iím certainly glad he did. A Knight's Tale is one of the best movies Iíve seen this year and will be hard to beat as far as summer movies go. The film is a fun romp through time and cinema conventions with a couple of leading men poised to take over Hollywood and the hearts of the American film public. Go see it. I dare you not to like it!

ó Renae Bolen

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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