Lowery’s ambitious, visually-indulgent and bewildering attempt at reimagining the story of Sir Gawain and the mysterious Green Knight is way too slow an anti-hero’s journey picture to truly engage.
Dir. David Lowery
2021 | USA | Drama/Adventure/Fantasy | 130 mins | 1.85:1 | English
M18 (passed clean) for violence, some sexuality and graphic nudity
Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Anais Rizzo
Plot: Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, embarks on a quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic green-skinned stranger.
International Sales: A24
Subject Matter: Moderate – Quest, Courage
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Viewed: In Theatres – The Projector
This latest film by David Lowery, who previously helmed A Ghost Story (2017) and The Old Man and the Gun (2018), didn’t really work for me, though its ambition is admirable. I know I’m in the minority of critical opinion here, but I was mostly bored with this.
The Green Knight is a reimagining of the story of Sir Gawain, played here by a rather accomplished Dev Patel, who makes a pact with the mysterious Green Knight that would see the former pay the latter a return visit a year and a day after a challenge was laid down in the presence of King Arthur and his knights.
It is a visually-indulgent film as Lowery gives us one darkly-beautiful image after another. On a stylistic level, The Green Knight is top-notch.
But at a pacing level, it is way too slow an anti-hero’s journey picture to truly engage, though I’m sure those who resonated with this movie would argue that its deliberate pace is key to immersion. (I love slow movies by the way.)
“I fear I am not meant for greatness.”
Not sure if anyone else felt this way but it was hard for me to be immersed in the story when the dynamism of the visuals is at odds with the lethargy of its storytelling pace.
It’s a bewildering film to experience really as it charts Gawain’s exploits (or rather non-exploits) as he meets an assortment of characters, including the Lady of a castle played by Alicia Vikander.
According to the source text, the Lady and her beloved Lord are key figures who would ‘test’ Gawain’s resolve. Here, they seem to have come too late into the game and are easily forgettable.
The journey leading up to its third act is just bland. At that point, even any imaginative tricks up Lowery’s sleeves seem unimpressive.
Having said that, I still believe Lowery to be a very capable filmmaker; there are certainly some things I appreciated in The Green Knight, but at the end of the day, I would be lying if I said I enjoyed this.