Movie Review – The Green Knight
Category : Movie Review
Director: David Lowery
Starring: Dev Patel
The Green Knight is already a middling movie in David Lowery’s filmography before being compared, critiqued, or categorized anywhere else; it’s neither the best or worst he can give us, it’s simply in the middle. The only explanation I can think of to understand critics’ rave reviews of something this un-special is that they must be completely starved for art, and are willing to consume anything remotely resembling the fare they’ve had before but far too long ago. That theory is bolstered by how much they focus on “all the sex” in this film, when there’s literally nothing like that present at all; completely starved, poor things. Green Knight is well-proportioned but in-excellent, although we would love for it to be so much more.
Gawain is the nephew of King Arthur, and a young member of his court, though not yet a Knight of the Round Table. He longs to prove himself and to earn honor, but spends far too much time carousing in brothels and drinking himself into a stupor to ever successfully climb the proverbial ladder. His mother, a known witch, calls upon the powers of the Earth to deliver him a challenge which he may conquer, and it comes one Christmas in the form of the Green Knight. This ancient, hardly-human warrior proposes a game; strike him freely, with deadly force if chosen, but agree to be struck with the same fervor one year following. Gawain, ever impetuous, takes up the challenge, beheads the Knight, only to watch him rise and remind him of the bargain. The next year and the following journey will test Gawain in every way, finally allowing him to die as a hero or live as a coward.
I may have started out harshly, but I rather liked Green Knight, or, rather, I liked parts of it. The beginning hooked me and the ending floored me, but the muddled middle, its length and its clouded judgement, took too much of my spirit away to ever say that I loved what I experienced. The ending was more than spectacular, it was perfect, and I wish more of the film was crafted in that way, but, unfortunately, the bulk of the movie was slow, had too many side plots, and went bizarre places mentally that Lowery couldn’t support with his storytelling. This really is only an example of what he can do, better than Pete’s Dragon and The Old Man & the Gun, but not as good as Ain’t Them Bodies Saints or A Ghost Story, which is my personal favorite. This also isn’t the best Hollywood can produce, we’re just bored, and we’re searching for something we can adore, because there isn’t much out there.
Dev Patel, I should mention, was phenomenal, absolutely brilliant, but the side cast, though talented, wasn’t used correctly, and so foundered: Alicia Vikander, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Barry Keoghan, Joel Edgerton. The film was beautiful, haunting, sweeping, mesmerizing, could have been the film of the year, but stumbled over its own feet trying to be too vague, too expressionistic, too trippy, and too bizarre. A teammate who could have reined Lowery in and added a sprinkle of comfort to what ended up being far too jostling could have helped make Green Knight the best film of the last few years; alas, we will have to settle for one of the best so far, but definitely not unbeatable.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆