Ledger Brings Sewell to Book
There is a word to describe "A Knight's Tale", it's not complex word or one which is rarely used but it is perfect for this movie, that word is "Entertaining". Now some may not see it, I know there are some who see "A Knight's Tale" a mess of old and contemporary but it is that exact mix rather than mess, peasants rocking out to "We Will Rock You" whilst Shannyn Sossamon wears hats befitting of Audrey Hepburn which makes it entertaining. Throw in a handsome star in Heath Ledger, plenty of comedy sidekicks and a rewrite of history which sees Geoffrey Chaucer enter the movie stark staring naked having lost everything gambling and it is an eclectic but entertaining mix which updates those medieval movies in a fun way.
When his master kicks the bucket between rounds at a jousting competition, squire William (Heath Ledger - 10 Things I Hate About You) persuades his friends Wat (Alan Tudyk) and Roland (Mark Addy) to help him take his place in the competition in order to win a prize and eat. But William's success leads to the young squire wanting more and after encountering a naked Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) they group together to turn William into a fake Knight, Ulrich von Lichtenstein in order to continue entering competitions and winning. But William finds his life becoming muddled when he falls for lady Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon - Catacombs) who believes he is a knight and at the same time makes an enemy of Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell - The Holiday) who is willing to do anything to rid him of this threat.
Forget all the style, the mix of old medieval jousting with contemporary music and mirth and ironically "A Knight's Tale" is just a reworking of the familiar story of a man making out he is something he isn't and then the truth coming out to spoil things. It is a storyline which has dominated romantic movies which in many ways that's what "A Knight's Tale" is and as such you know as soon as William starts to make a name for himself as Ulrich von Lichtenstein and courting lady Jocelyn that at some point the truth will bite him in his ass. But the thing is that writer and director Brian Helgeland has embellished this familiar idea with so many different elements and characters that the simplicity of this tale is initially missed.
So as to all those embellishments which frankly are what makes "A Knight's Tale" so entertaining. Well first up there is the contemporary music and as already mentioned we have the fantastic opening which features "We Will Rock You" and a peasant crowd doing the wave. It is frankly imaginatively hilarious and throughout the movie there are more contemporary songs which add a spark of life to a scene such as a dance scene between William and Jocelyn.
But it is not just the music because there is mirth, mirth which comes from some wonderful characters from the lyrical Chaucer as he promotes William at jousting events to Wat not having the words to describe the beating he is going to dish out. It is not just the words which are funny; a scene which features Kate the blacksmith branding the armour she makes with a Nike flash is funny in itself. And the general camaraderie between everyone is just perfect with Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk and Paul Bettany all sparking off each other quite brilliant. In fact whilst Heath Ledger is good as our handsome hero and Shannyn Sossamon is pretty as Jocelyn whilst Rufus Sewell gives us evil as Count Adhemar it is the combination of all the actors and characters and how they interact which makes it entertaining.
Plus of course with "A Knight's Tale" being about medieval competitions and jousting there is the action. Now what action there is is good, it maybe over the top especially during the final joust scene but the cinematography of Knights charging at each other with lances is powerful. But in a way the action is what lets "A Knight's Tale" down for me because whilst there is some sword play I would have loved to have seen more, some old fashioned swashbuckling would have made it perfect.
What this all boils down to is that "A Knight's Tale" is simply entertaining and is a wonderful mix of medieval with contemporary music and mirth. It is a movie which if you don't enjoy the opening which sees peasants rocking out to "We Will Rock You" you will most likely hate but if that scene puts a smile on your face then so will the rest of the movie.