First Knight (1995)

<strong class="MovieTitle">First Knight</strong> (1995)

(In French, On TV, November 2018) I’m not sure I completely accept Richard Gere as dashing young knight Lancelot trying to win over the queen (Julia Ormond) from King Arthur (Sean Connery). But that’s First Knight for you. The film makes a big deal out of the 35-year age difference between Ormond and Connery, but not so much of the 16-year difference between Gere and Ormond. (But that’s been Hollywood’s idea of an acceptable age range ever since the first movie moguls hit their mid-thirties.) More significant is the film’s overall lack of energy or reason to care: It’s, by design, an unsatisfying premise—who dares have Richard Gere best Sean Connery!?—and the limp execution from Jerry Zucker (better known for comedies) doesn’t do much to help. Even the high points, such as a ridiculously convoluted obstacle course, don’t quite manage to make the film come alive. The treatment of the Arthurian myth is realistic, but for a hollywoodian ideal of realism that seems like an uncomfortable compromise. I probably would have liked the film if I actually cared more about reinterpreting the Arthurian myth … but I don’t. First Knight is also severely harmed by the mid-1990s wave of far better historical movies set around the British Isles, along the lines of Braveheart or (better yet) Rob Roy. The result is not terrible, but neither is it particularly good. Maybe worth a watch for fans of Connery, Ormond or Gere even if their casting is sometimes dubious.

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