Movie Review

Tristan and Isolde

Before Romeo & Juliet, there was...
Tristan and Isolde Movie Poster

US Release Date: 01-13-2006

Directed by: Kevin Reynolds


  • James Franco
  • Tristan
  • Sophia Myles
  • Isolde
  • Rufus Sewell
  • Lord Marke
  • Henry Cavill
  • Melot
  • JB Blanc
  • Leon
  • Jamie King
  • Anwick
  • Mark Strong
  • Wictred
Reviewed on: September 27th, 2006
James Franco and Sophia Myles in Tristan and Isolde.

James Franco and Sophia Myles in Tristan and Isolde.

I am not sure if Tristan and Isolde is based on the King Arthur legend or if King Arthur is based on it. Both stories follow identical love triangles. In King Arthur, the King's wife comes from another kingdom. She gets naked with the King's champion, who came from another kingdom. In Tristan and Isolde, the King's wife, comes from another kingdom and gets naked with the King's champion, who came from another kingdom. I could also draw parallels to Romeo and Juliet, as Isolde comes from a country that is feuding with a kingdom that Tristan comes from. Either way, this movie is full of old romantic cliches.

Tristan is British, and through ridiculous means, ends up near death on the shore of Ireland where he is found and tended to by Isolde. He gets better. They have sex. The movie never gives a reason why they fall in love. It is supposed to be romantic, but the truth is that she is upset with her dad for promising her to a soldier she does not care for, and taking care of Tristan gives her something to do. Why does he fall for her? I just told you. She nurses him back to health and takes his virginity. What's not to get?

Based on those romantic notions, the movie expands to include the entire destiny of the British Isles. The Irish King offers his daughter's hand in marriage to the British Lord who can win a tournament of his making. He intends to fix the games so the Lord of his choice can win. Tristan however, enters the competition and wins. He has no idea that the woman whom he fell in love with is the princess.

He was fighting for his Lord and thus Isolde must marry him and not Tristan. They start having an affair after she gets married. Their relationship could potentially undermine the progress of a nation as the King's enemies intend to use their affair to take him down.

There is lots of battles and fighting. The action is all well and fun. It helps distract from the complete and utter lack of romance. Yes, this is a love story based on a legendary love affair but it generates very little heat. There are no nude scenes or passionate encounters. There is never any reason, other than convenience, given for their relationship to be initiated so why do I care to root for them to stay together.