The Green Knight

The Green Knight ★★★★½

“Why greatness? Why is goodness not enough?” 
    David Lowery’s fifth feature won’t be for everyone. As far as I know, there has been no Arthurian film adaptation quite like it before. There’s no attempt to simplify the plot, no concessions to make it easily palatable for general audiences.
    Already shown to be preoccupied with deconstructing myths in his previous films, here he lasers in on the nature of legends themselves, specifically how they usually are spun with little concern for adherence to factual accuracy. It’s a story involving someone whose goal is to be remembered as great, but is unable to own up to what is expected of him. 
     Dev Patel turns out his best work yet in a very physical performance as Gawain. His eyes do a lot of heavy lifting, alternating between determination and hesitation. It also brings me great joy seeing Alicia Vikander in a film worthy of her talent again after so long. Her dual roles are a fine showcase for her commendable range.
     Barry Keoghan, Joel Edgerton, and Erin Kellyman all also make an impact as eccentric and memorable characters Gawain meets on the road. Then there’s the Green Knight himself. Ralph Ineson’s velvety cadence is a perfect fit for this enigmatic force of nature. My only gripe with casting is Sean Harris’ relatively tepid turn as Arthur. 
    With its elliptical narrative structure, the technical facets are even more crucial to the film’s success. The graceful shot composition fluctuates between surreal and something profoundly tied to nature. Cinematographer Andrew Palermo vividly depicts the lavish greens of the environment surrounding Gawain, as if the Green Knight himself is omnipresent.
   I also have no reservations saying that Daniel Hart’s celtic-tinged score has quickly cemented itself among one of my all time favorites. Rarely do I download a film’s soundtrack so quickly after watching it. It beautifully conveys the sense of scope and metaphysical grandeur of Gawain’s journey. Here there be giants.  
   The Green Knight demands much of its audience—to remain attentive with its deliberately sluggish pacing, to contemplate its ideas despite their unconventional presentation and not being spelled out for quick comprehension, to be open to a movie about a famed hero that includes very little action or classical valor.
      But it is spellbinding, erotic, and mysterious in a manner that US productions are seldom permitted to be, climaxing in a scene that portrays the preceding two hours in a completely new light. For those who are on its wavelength, The Green Knight is a wondrous odyssey overseen by Lowery’s poetic sensibility, excellent performances, and a cinematic conceptualization that teleported me inside its world.

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