A Knight's Tale review by David Richards
- Pamplin Media
- Central Oregonian - Features
re's an opening scene in A Knight's Tale that I'm still thinking about.
The arena is set for a jousting battle, the crowd is ready to root on its favorite, but in the background, we hear Queen's "We Will Rock You." The crowd is chanting and clapping to the beat. It's like we're watching MTV's Rock and Jock jousting.
But what should have been a terribly out of place song in a film that's set in the medieval period, somehow seems to fit quite nicely. It adds charm and creativity to the scene, so much so that I wish I was there, chanting and clapping along.
A lot of the film's success revolves around scenes like that one.
Its core is in the tournament battles, but it's really about much more than that. For every one good battle scene, there's a scene like the one in which the hero and his entourage are trying to learn how to dance, or the scene in which the same group tries to write a love letter to a seemingly untouchable woman.
The film isn't perfect, but its cast of colorful characters grabs a hold of our interest for pretty much the entire way through.
The hero in the film is William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), a lad who gets an opportunity to joust only because the knight he was a squire to suddenly dies before a tournament.
Thatcher doesn't come from a long line of royalty, but he is determined to succeed simply because his father told him that he could accomplish anything if he embodied the heart and the desire.
This movie is Thatcher's story. We witness his triumphs and his defeats as he continues to impersonate the knight.
Along for the ride is Thatcher's two closest friends (Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk), who provide comic relief for the film, Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) who boasts having a gambling problem and a talented female blacksmith (Laura Fraser), who is there for Thatcher to construct for him the latest and lightest armor.
It isn't long before Thatcher is smitten by a spectator named Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon), who teases Thatcher every chance she can get, but at the same time still respects him. Thatcher then balances his career as a jouster with his growing love for Jocelyn and his determination to defeat the highly-touted Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell).
The most enjoyable aspects of the film revolve around the delightful cast. Although I felt Thatcher and Jocelyn had very little chemistry, there are enough multi-dimensional supporting characters to make this fairly long film worthwhile.
It's a pleasure to watch A Knight's Tale really. Filmmaker Brian Helgeland finds the right combination of action and humor to make this story work.
Besides, the fact that a bunch of little known actors can pull off performances this good, is a miracle in and of itself.