Friday, July 30, 2021

The Green Knight - Review


Hollywood is no stranger to the occasional Arthurian legend, though they mostly result in lackluster affairs when all is said in done. But for anyone expecting a sword clashing adventure akin to those that have come before, The Green Knight will surely not meet those expectations. What director David Lowery gives audiences instead is an otherworldly  vision with an extremely measured pace, an exceptional visual identity, and no simple answers to its very complex ideas and questions. 

King Arthur's headstrong nephew, Gawain (Dev Patel), embarks on a daring quest to confront the Green Knight, a mysterious giant who appears at Camelot. Risking his head, he sets off on an epic adventure to prove himself before his family and court.

As most Arthurian legends tend to go, nothing is literal, and Lowery maintains that in his vision of “Sir Gaiwan and the Green Knight.” Gaiwain’s quest is filled with symbolism, never for a moment treating the audience with kid gloves, allowing the ambiguity and mystery of it all to wash over the film. The motivations of Gaiwan are never quite clear, forcing one to wonder what’s keeping on this path towards certain death by the way of the titular Green Knight. 

Along this perilous journey, and in virtually every scene, we are presented with the marvelous Dev Patel. While the film starts with a confident, albeit stoic, Gaiwan, Patel’s performance makes the that facade slowly melt away. As he inches closer to his appointment with destiny, the vision of reality becomes increasingly murky, and so too does the characters conviction, effectively stripping him down bare before he is to meet his grisly fate.

From the very first images of this film, it’s been known that the visuals and technical elements of The Green Knight would be nothing short of magnificent. Every facet of the production is superb. From the outstanding camerawork of cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo, the gorgeous costumes of Malgosia Turzanska, and the wonderfully strange production design of Jade Healy, every inch of this film is dripping with something spectacular. Throw in a multilayered, exuberant score by Daniel Hart, and the film becomes a feast for the eyes and ears alike. 

In the end, The Green Knight is just about everything you could hope for a modern Arthurian legend. David Lowery is not afraid to commit to the text on which it is based, leaving the mystery intact and never straying from his unique vision along the way. There are a few hints in the way of the other pieces of this grand epic, but it essentially boils down to just the story of a man and date with destiny and an axe. 

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