Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Green Knight Review: A Cinematic, Slow Journey

Release date: July 30, 2021
Running time: 125 minutes
Adapted and Directed By: David Lowery
Starring: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur's reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

The Green Knight is a beautiful piece of cinema.  The film has this amazing setting that recreates a medieval village with the drab colors and rough life that you would expect.  The film feels like it transports you to this time, with some amazing sets and some equally amazing camera shots and low light shots. Make sure you have a great setup when you watch this as the low light scenes are something to behold.  I saw it in theaters and even then, a regular projector was probably too bright.  And accompanying this amazing camera work is some fantastic music.  It is like in a dream or a fantasy, with a great mixture of lute and other string instruments accompanying this journey.  The music feels otherworldly but using time period appropriate instruments.  The music is something special and I really want a soundtrack of this film.

And the Green Knight is full of characters.  Dev Patel's Gawain is a contradiction, one who has noble blood and both hopes to embrace his destiny but is also constantly running away from it.  He is the focus of this film and Dev Patel plays him well.  And on top of Gawain, the movie is full of interesting participants in Gawain's quest, including Barry Keoghan as a scavenger who played a perfectly unsettling stranger as only he can.  And rounding out the cast, Joel Edgerton and Alicia Vikander as nobles that he meets along the way add a lot of flavor to the film.  And the story of The Green Knight is long and involved, with plenty of encounters to test this young man as he fulfills his destiny.

But the Green Knight will not be for everyone. First, the film is a slow burn.  For every scene with beautiful cinematography you will have some drawn out sequences that help to build the setting and the characters.  The film is especially slow in the first instances of the journey.  And despite it seemingly having action sequences from the images, this movie is all about drama.  Additionally, and there is no easy way to say this, the film is just weird.  There are some otherworldly sequences, some hallucinogenic sequences, and Gawain encounters some very strange occurrences on top of the odd characters during his journey.  And the movie's ending will be a mixed bag for many; it is brilliant but also leaves something to be desired.

In the end, The Green Knight is a triumph of cinema, with some really amazing sets, characters, and music, but the pace and strangeness of this legend might cause some to not take this journey.

Rent it.

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The Green Knight is in theaters on July 30, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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