Sunday, January 16, 2022

REVIEW: The Green Knight




King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table have long enjoyed a storied reputation as symbols of valor and honor. It seems that Hollywood mines the Arthurian legends for a new swashbuckling film every other year. Rare is the cinematic adaptation that centers a figure outside of King Arthur's inner circle. But as David Lowery proves with his sensational "The Green Knight", the stories of the unsung heroes can prove to be just as worthy of being told.

"The Green Knight" is the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), the nephew of King Arthur. We meet him under inauspicious circumstances, as he leaves a brothel following his latest tryst with his lover Essel (Alicia Vikander in a showstopping dual performance). With no knightly title ascribed to him, he feels unfit to sit among the esteemed company at Camelot, where King Arthur is hosting a Christmas feast. Gawain's destiny may soon change, however, when the merry proceedings are interrupted by a mysterious visitor. This monstrous figure is revealed to be The Green Knight, who issues to a challenge to the brave men present. He dares a volunteer to deal him a fatal blow in what he describes as a "Christmas game", in exchange for his powerful green axe. Sensing an opportunity to improve his standing, Gawain steps up and successfully beheads tree-like creature. But as his decapitated victim reminds him while walking away with head in hand, the challenge requires Gawain to seek him out one year later to be similarly attacked. As the fateful date looms, Gawain must now summon the courage to embark on a foreboding journey to secure his coveted honor and legacy.

An epic adventure thus unfolds with the dashing Gawain looking every bit the knight aspires to be. Patel's is at his magnetic best, with a humility and vulnerability that really draws in the audience. His gentle, approachable demeanour invites us on this journey with him, fearful for what awaits.

Admittedly, "The Green Knight" is hardly action-packed in the usual sense. But that doesn't mean it's uneventful. In fact, the captivating narrative constantly tests his mettle along the way as he comes across violent strangers, supernatural occurrences, unforgiving natural elements and an imposing landscape. And it's all depicted with increasingly saturated, colorful cinematography, creating some of the most mesmerizing imagery of the year. Meanwhile, the score's ethereal choral motifs further instill a mythic atmosphere.

As this beguiling fantasia builds to its stunning conclusion, Lowery's heady (pun intended) screenplay asks pertinent questions of its protagonist and audience alike. What makes a man great or honourable? Or as Vikander's Essel asks, "is goodness not enough?" Lowery beautifully explores the answers, this noble but unequivocally foolish quest proves to be humbling and deeply satisfying. Among the many medieval depictions which celebrate reckless machismo, this boldly conceived film is a breath of fresh air.

4 comments:

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  2. The Green Knight is the epic.
    top notch

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  3. I love old Arthurian legends. This movie is great!
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