Written and Directed by David Lowery
Starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan, Erin Kellyman, Megan Tiernan
There are lessons to learn with the stories of King Arthur, The Round Table and the like. The poems and stories are indented to teach lessons those who hear them. Many variations on the tale happened since, with Sir Gawain and The Green Knight being prominent. I knew very little of this tale, mainly due to my reluctance to celebrate British fictional history. This allows the David Lowery’s interpretation to be fresh and a welcome change of pace to the type of story one might expect in the age of blockbusters.
The story involves an aging King Arthur (Harris), celebrating Christmas with his court. He asks for a story and into his court The Green Knight (Ineson) arrives. He offers up a game, where one knight is allowed to take a swing at him, in order to receive an identical blow one year later. Into the light, Arthur’s nephew Gawain (Patel) steps up. Using Excalibur, he takes the knight’s head off with one blow.
The Green Knight picks up his head, reminds Gawain of the terms and rides away, laughing through the head he carries in his hand.
What follows is a mixture of magic, horror and an interesting depiction of kindness. Patel proves he is up for the challenge of the inexperienced, debaucherous and questionably brave Knight to be. His talent for showing emotions ranging from arrogance to cowardice, innocence to tainted, jaded to awed.
The rest of the cast is effectively creepy for the mood that Lowery is working to present. Ineson and Dickie even played a creepy doomed couple in Robert Egger’s The VVitch. Vikander’s character is a strange interpretation, playing a pauper girl and a lady of a mysterious castle. She gets some of the heaviest dialogue, so if you want a lesson on red passion and the inevitability of green, pay attention.
Lowery’s work is effective and beautiful to look at. The film feels a bit on the over-edited side, but still feeling like there could be even more cuts. He spent a half-year re-working after it was delayed by the pandemic. There are much bigger sins, though. He should also be commended for playing Kellyman way against type.
If you like stories with morals that haven’t been re-written in the last 12 years, The Green Knight should entertain. The result feels more entertaining and less tainted by modernity.
(***1/2 out of *****)