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Tristan & Isolde

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Tristan & Isolde Movie Poster Image
The legend of young love going wrong, again.
  • PG-13
  • 2006
  • 125 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

King offers his daughter as a prize to contest winner; young lovers commit adultery.


Bloody battles with medieval weapons (swords, hammers, spears, poison), producing bloody bodies; three major battle scenes, assorted other competitions and fights.


Heaving breasts and heavy breathing, brief nudity, discussion of sex and lust.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking of ale and wine at parties.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film includes several fierce medieval battle scenes, featuring swords, mallets, spears, knives, and arrows, and resulting in dead and bloody/wounded bodies. The young lovers appear in various states of undress and throes of passion (kissing, embracing, hiding from authorities); in one scene, two women strip to lie next to the naked, just washed-ashore Tristan in order to warm him. The young lovers engage in an adulterous affair after she is married. Characters drink during party scenes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRachel D April 9, 2008

Good Romance

I was pretty impressed with this Hollywood romance. The time period includes violence but overall it was quite clean (swearing, sex etc.) I enjoyed it even thou... Continue reading
Adult Written bymom2007 April 9, 2008

interesting but dull at the same time

The story thrilled my teenagers to death but I was a little bored by the actual film. It interested me enough to look for other versions of the story but not e... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMiranda B. March 2, 2011

Classic romance book turned movie is beautiful!

This movie is beautifully made! It is my favorite romantic movie of all time. Nothing will ever compare to it. Sure it has a few sex scenes, but you only see th... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byhottstuff58 April 9, 2008

Best movie I've ever seen in my life

i loved it so much, the story was great. it was touching, well written, and the acting was wonderful. it helps that james franco was in it (he is SO cute!!) i... Continue reading

What's the story?

Orphaned during an Irish raid, Tristan (James Franco) is raised by his uncle, Lord Marke of Cornwall (Rufus Sewell), who tries to unite the British tribes against their would-be Irish conquerors. Wounded during battle, Tristan is believed dead and set adrift on a burning bier. He washes up in Ireland, where he's nursed by the daughter of King Donnchadh (David Patrick O'Hara), the rambunctious Isolde (Sophia Myles). She keeps her own identity secret as they fall in love. When Tristan's compatriots come hunting for him, she sends him off with a kiss and lament that "This cannot be." But as soon as Tristan returns home, Donnchadh decides to give away his daughter to the winner of a contest among the British tribesmen, hoping to divide them in the process. When Tristan wins her for Marke, she's horrified to learn her husband is not Tristan, just as he's horrified to learn she is the princess. After the marriage, Tristan dissolves in depression, until they begin to tryst in secret.

Is it any good?

Focused on loyal knights and proud royals, forbidden passions and tragic fates, TRISTAN & ISOLDE is a disappointingly wan romance. The film shows their love as a series of soft-focus embraces and seductive glances across crowded rooms, like they're teenagers on The O.C. Such soapy structure and conflicting allegiances only make the medieval setting gloomier.

Franco suffers exceedingly: another pretty young actor who has appeared in several films and hasn't yet found a defining role, he's hardly helped by the lack of voltage with Myles. If Tristan is inexplicably addicted to the girl, the effects of his desire are conveniently lacking when he's called on to swash and buckle in defense of Marke. And then, well, it's back to swooning, his dark eyes timeworn emblems of adolescent love gone wrong.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters' efforts to balance desire and duty. How do the young people deal with losing parents (Tristan loses both; Isolde's mother is absent), or seek moral ground while living during wartime? How does the film follow the well-known legend that serves as its source?

Movie details

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