Tristan & Isolde
Rufus Sewell was born to act the Middle Ages; his somber, heavily lidded eyes suit all-brown ensembles. In Tristan and Isolde, Sewell invests Lord Marke with an appropriately dour presence—you can never tell if he’s using his smoldering brooding for good or evil. He most trusts the young Tristan (James Franco, sporting some of the most fabulous Tiffany tresses since Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver), whom Marke cared for after his parents were killed by Irish invaders. As in 2002’s The Count of Monte Cristo, director Kevin Reynolds plays fast and loose with costume drama, injecting moody warfare into this myth. This version casts Isolde (Sophie Myles) as the daughter of the Irish king who nurtures and shelters a wounded Tristan after he’s mistaken for dead. He returns home with a fire in his heart and participates in games to compete for the Irish king’s daughter as dowry bounty, unknowing that he’s winning Isolde for Marke. And then, well, this is a tragedy after all. Franco doesn’t have Sewell’s dark gifts—you keep expecting Tristan and the equally too-pretty Melot (Henry Cavill) to pop out to a club—but the truly comic gem is that you have to reach some thousand years back to imagine a divided Britain fighting Irish rule.