The Green Knight
Starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Ralph Ineson, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie
Apparently few read or studied Sir Gawain and The Green Knight in school, not that familiarity with the material will make or break your experience with David Lowery’s version. You’ve likely seen a film or two by director David Lowery: A Ghost Story, Pete’s Dragon, The Old Man and the Gun, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Each of his films have something in common, they are tediously slow in their pace (aka boring to the point you want to gouge your eyes out). The Green Knight is a bit more akin to Terrence Malick’s way of presenting cinema. Like Lowery’s other films and all of Malick’s work, the audience must not only work to make sense of imagery but determine if it’s important or just ornamental. This is where having read the anonymous work from 1390 might come in handy if you know the general idea of the plot.
The basic concept of the story is that King Arthur (Sean Harris) and Queen Guinevere (Kate Dickie) are threatened by a mysterious green knight, who challenges someone brave enough in Camelot to a game. Desperate to find courage and become a knight, Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) rises to the occasion. He takes the challenge, beheads the knight, agreeing to have the same done to him in one years’ time. Gawain becomes immensely popular, wildly celebrated, and in one year, sets out on the journey to find the headless Knight and finish the game. As fear begins to creep in, he is forced to choose between honesty and pride.
For those who just want to watch, enjoy, and experience some kind of emotion, without relying on illegal substances, The Green Knight might leave you in a deep state of aggravation.
Dev Patel has always been a joy on screen, his Oscar nominated performance in Lion still remains his most emotional and riveting performance. The entire film is subtle, and while Patel showcases his ability to perform inwardly, it doesn’t make use of his strengths as an actor. While Lowery’s adaption is visually arresting, as many of his films are, the obscurity of the narrative leaves the viewers mind to wander right off the screen and maybe even right to sleep. For some film critics, fans of Avant-garde, or those seeking radical artistic expression, The Green Knight might satisfy all your needs. For those who just want to watch, enjoy, and experience some kind of emotion, without relying on illegal substances, The Green Knight might leave you in a deep state of aggravation.
It’s completely understandable why many would call this type of film something masterful. Perhaps even high art, yet when something goes so far beyond reasonable expectations that narrative is tossed out for allegory, the amount of people who can enjoy such a work becomes narrow. No amount of plunging necklines showcasing Patel's physique, beautiful cinematography or curious creatures can make The Green Knight a satisfying experience. It should come as no surprise that Lowery’s retelling also reinvents the original ending to make even that opaque. The Green Knight is a film that the majority of film critics are writing reviews for their colleagues, not their readers and the public. I recommend reading user reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for this particular film, before deciding to waste your money.
If Terrence Malick (Tree of Life) directed Game of Thrones, it might look something like this.