Ladyhawke

Year: 1985

Synopsis: A good-hearted thief finds himself caught in a story of tragedy, dark forces, and vengeance, and learns he might be the key to another path.

Pros:
• Was surprisingly character driven, in spite of an overpowering plot-line.
• Rutger Hauer provided a surprising depth the deeply emotional antihero Etienne, as John Wood perfectly countered with the corrupt and love-mad Bishop of Aquila.
• Michelle Pfeiffer provided and engaging and at times haunting performance as Isabeau, highlighting how the character was far more than just a victim of evil machinations.
• Matthew Broderick and Leo McKern provided a distinct self-awareness to to film, as they made it feel as if “God” was secretly the audience.
• Simply beautiful to watch.
• The experimental undertones and overtones worked in the long run, as its rather unique embrace of electronic and orchestral was echoed afterwards, including in adventure video games.

Cons:
• Perhaps a bit full of itself at times, as there seemed to be the assumption that the audience would just go with the events without question.
• The soundtrack can feel a bit overbearing earlier in the film.
• Somewhat predictable plot, while the tone tended to shift awkwardly from humor to dramatic fantasy.
• The final scene might loose some of its luster when one realizes that none of the guests had any idea what was going on.
•Everyone seemed a little too clean, this being set in the middle-ages.

Discussion:
In spite of the film trying very hard to stand out amongst others in the genre, Ladyhawke was perhaps a largely traditional film at its core. Corrupt leaders, wise yet broken men, tortured heroes, reluctant allies. Good and bad was clear, even if those fighting for what was right were not without tarnish. Yet, it was the things aiming to make it different anyway that made it truly memorable. Amongst the sprawling landscapes and ever encroaching fates were people far more than their twentieth-century archetypes. Like the ancient Greek myths, there were blood, sweat, and tears, as Isabeau had the depth and haunting ferocity to call forth a thousand ships. It was all back up with musical tones that embedded themselves into our psyche, whether we liked them or not. This might not be the most precious jewel of the genre, but it stays with the viewer.


Rotten Tomatoes — 64%

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