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  DOWSE movie guide review of A Knight's Tale

A Knight's Tale
Director: Brian Helgeland
review by E. Ferguson

Early in the film, we are surprised with an enthusiastic medieval crowd clapping, singing and a little bit of bad dancing, to the hit song by Queen, 'We Will Rock You.' That is exactly what this movie does to the audience. It will probably get lost in the dust of the mega-hit The Mummy Returns but, trust me, this is a much better movie. It is funny, intelligent, entertaining and fun!
   We meet a ragtag band of starving servants of a now dead jouster. They are in a panic, because they desperately need their share of his expected winnings. So, William Thatcher, played by Heath (The Patriot) Ledger, manages to convince his cohorts Roland and Wat to allow him to put on the armour, finish the competition, and attempt to win the needed money. From there the fun has just begun, as William follows through on his father's encouragement that if he believes, "a man can change his stars."
   Filmed in Prague last year, at half of the estimated cost of a Hollywood production, Brian Helgeland (maker of Payback and LA Confidential) wrote and directed this story inspired by 'The Canterbury Tales'. This is the third American movie for Aussie hunk Heath Ledger. First time actress, Shannyn Sossamon, plays his beautiful love interest, Jocelyn. Sossamon and Ledger bring sizzle to the screen with their playful and tender romance. Jocelyn is a decidedly modern woman, determined that she will not quietly fit into the demure role usually prescribed for women of the era. An interesting side note, Ms Sossamon landed the role after she caught the eye of a casting consultant as she deejayed at Gwyneth Paltrow's birthday party.
   The actors appear to have as fun much as the audience does. Roland is the sensible member of this team as Mark Addy continues to standout in supporting roles (The Full Monty and Down o Earth). Wat played by Alan Tudyk (28 Days and Wonder Boys) is simply hilarious with his edgy violence. The heretofore unknown author of 'The Canterbury Tales', Geoff Chaucer is brought to life by Paul Bettany (upcoming roles in Morality Play and the Ron Howard movie, A Beautiful Mind), and he threatens to steal the movie. His task is to serve as William's heralder at the tournaments and his gift with words provides many laughs. Of course, the story requires a brooding villain, a role that Rufus Sewell (Bless The Child and Dark City) seems to enjoy.
   However, make no mistake this is Ledger's film. His good looks and infectious smile, along with deftness at portraying a good-hearted, albeit naïve, lovesick, would-be knight will have you cheering him and his troupe all the way.
   When you invite your friend, I cannot tell you how to describe the movie, because if you say that it is a movie about four guys and a girl going from city to city competing in jousting tournaments, it doesn't sound like a lot of fun. But, let them know the movie is just pure simple, summer fun. It offers an intelligent story about characters you will like, with witty dialogue and a very modern romance. Tell your friend to not be alarmed by the idea of a medieval story and the boring music that usually comes with the territory. You will only have to endure harp music for a few brief moments, before it gives away to a David Bowie song, along with other familiar tunes.
   The movie's PG-13 rating is for nudity, action violence and brief sex-related dialogue. A Knight's Tale is one of the few movies that teenagers and parents might enjoy together.

E. Ferguson

DOWSE Guide to the Movies is compiled by Tony Lee editor of Pigasus Press
You can order videos and DVD releases reviewed on these pages at Blackstar

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