A Knight’s Tale
Out of his league. William (Ledger) doesn't believe his luck when Lady Jocelyn (Sossamon) falls for him...
dir-scr Brian Helgeland
with Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Rufus Sewell, Laura Fraser, Shannyn Sossamon, Christopher Cazenove, James Purefoy, Berenice Bejo, Scott Handy, Leagh Conwell
release US 11.May.01; UK 3.Aug.01
01/US 2h12

3½ out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
he will rock you It's a collision of the 14th and 21st centuries in this rambunctious and entertaining movie, a story of knights and jousting in Medieval Europe, spiced up with today's music and attitudes. The lowly William Thatcher (Ledger) masquerades as Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein of Gelderland so he can enter a tournament ... and when he wins he's propelled to superstardom, much to the delight of his assistants--the sputtering hothead (Tudyk), the warm-hearted softie (Addy), the brilliant blacksmith (Fraser) and the laser-tongued, unemployed writer Geoffrey Chaucer (Bettany). But the reigning champion (Sewell) isn't very happy about how Sir Ulrich has usurped both his popularity and his intended bride (Sossamon). And they're all headed for a showdown at the World Championships in London ... where William will also have to face up to his long-lost father (Cazenove).

OK so there's never even the slightest doubt how things will end up. Every element of the plot is by the book, right down to the fact that the bad guy isn't merely a ruthless contender--no, he's Pure Evil! But the film's hugely enjoyable anyway--there's enough intelligent wit and physical goofiness to keep us smiling, and the occasional shift to serious drama, sentimentality and romance isn't too clunky. The reason for using all these modern references is obvious: so we know what pop culture of the day must have felt like. But that's pretty stupid, really, because it certainly was nothing like this at all. This is really just a 21st Century action movie in fancy dress! But the considerable talents of Helgeland and his cast make it work. Ledger proves again that he has serious leading man cred. Bettany steals every scene he's in with his sparkling verve. And no one glowers menacingly like Sewell. Interestingly, nothing is made of the love triangle aspect--doesn't anyone realise that the blacksmith is the most gorgeous girl on the continent? And Cazenove seems to be in a different movie altogether, delivering a seriously dramatic (and surprisingly moving) performance while everyone else is hamming it up. An odd concoction, this ... but I loved it.
themes, vulgarity cert PG 19.Jul.01

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"The trailers made this look like a fun movie and I was not disappointed. The first time modern rock & roll was played, within the first 10 minutes, I was surprised ... then settled down to enjoy it - it made things more fun! This is about a boy born into humble birth, a knight's squire who really wants to be a knight. His master dies, so he puts on the armor and wins the tourney. He and his pals are splitting the loot, but he points out that they can win more by sticking together and going to more tournaments. They are joined by a fellow wanderer who can forge the necessary papers. There is a beautiful but forbidden maiden (she is a member of the aristocracy, he is not) and a real bad guy knight in black who of course cheats. You know who will triumph - but it is fun watching them triumph! I liked this movie, and if you have not seen it and it is raining on the weekend, I recommend it!" --Laurie T, Minneapolis 1.Jun.01

he will rock you "This film is really really really hilarious and very exciting! I really recommend this, so if you haven't already seen it, go now! I love the way modern music is put into it although it is set in the middle ages! Go see it!" --Jessy Harrison, Hampshire 2.Sep.01

© 2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall