The Green Knight Movie Review
How much you dig the first minute of The Green Knight will be a major indicator of how enthralled you will be by David Lowery’s tale of morality, honor, and integrity. Giving a big, fat middle finger to convention, the film is gorgeous, atmospheric, and mesmerizing--but will prove too strange and narratively dense for most viewers.
Dev Patel stars as Sir Gawain, the bold but unproven nephew of King Arthur who sets out on a fateful quest to meet the mythical Green Knight, to whom he has all but promised his head. Along the way he encounters thieves, ghosts, temptation, and an adorable talking fox.
Visually engrossing, The Green Knight is the prettiest and most atmospheric movie of 2021. Lowery draws you into his version of the 14th century that is simultaneously grounded--it feels like he traveled back in time and started filming at sunset--and overflowing with mysticism. The movie consistently blurs the line between reality and fantasy and the result is a beautiful, absorbing, and fascinating experience.
A day later, the movie hasn’t left my mind… with its meandering story involving side quests and stops and starts--and much less action than you might expect--The Green Knight is not typically the kind of movie that would suck me in and hold me tight, and yet it does (not unlike Lowery’s A Ghost Story). It’s spellbinding in many ways, unpredictable, and told with clear vision. It may not all make sense on the surface--there are deep themes and metaphors at play here that are impossible to fully digest in a single viewing--but the journey is exquisite.
Dev Patel is terrific as the flawed but likeable Gawain; he owns the role through and through. The supporting cast, led by Alicia Vikander in dual roles, is incredible too, each delivering unique and compelling turns. Sean Harris deserves his own “Old King Arthur” movie, while Joel Edgerton thrives in the film’s most playful role. Barry Keoghan, in a small but memorable turn, is absolutely sensational.
The Green Knight won’t work for everyone, but it’s a movie that seizes your soul early and never releases, even after the end credits roll. You’ll know whether it’s the movie for you or not in the first minute, but even if it isn’t, this is one film that will be hard to forget.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.