Starring: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton
Director: David Lowery
Running Time: 130 mins
The Green Knight is an American film about the legend of Gawain, a would-be knight who sets out on a quest across England to face the mysterious Green Knight, on a journey that will test his courage to its limits.
About as stereotypcially A24 as the indie studio gets, The Green Knight is a visually captivating and powerfully atmospheric modern take on a medieval folktale, complete with gripping performances and an ominous score. The only thing that it lacks is a story with captivating emotional depth, but it still delivers as a simple, slow-paced advenutre.
Now, like many films from A24 (Midsommar, The Lighthouse etc.), The Green Knight is a bit of an acquired taste. This isn’t your average Hollywood update of a medieval folktale, but a highly stylised take on the story of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight.
Director David Lowery does a fantastic job at committing to a blend of modern revisionist and traditional motifs in a film that could have been a little dull if it had leaned too far to either side. That makes The Green Knight a stylistically exhilarating watch, filled with the ominous atmosphere you’d expect from a great A24 movie.
That’s brought to life by dark cinematography (sometimes so dark you can’t actually see what’s going on), and a looming musical score, both of which go a long way to making this film more than just a man traversing the countryside for two hours.
What’s more, Dev Patel is a thoroughly likable hero as Gawain, and supporting players including Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton and particularly Barry Keoghan have a real impact in bringing a greater intensity to this simple quest story.
The film’s simplicity, however, is what ultimately brings it down. While The Green Knight tries to blend medieval lore with themes of self-discovery, bravery and corruption, it’s never really insightful enough to make for an emotionally enthralling watch.
The atmosphere is what really carries The Green Knight through its two hours of runtime, because at times the film feels a little bit like the most uneventful parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, where the main character is just crossing over land to reach a destination.
That being said, the film is still an entertaining watch, mostly because of its stylised take on a medieval legend. With strong performances, excellent visuals, a powerful score and fantastic production design, there’s a lot that makes The Green Knight an eye-catching watch, but not exactly the most riveting you’ll ever see. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4 overall.