Cast: Dev Patel, Barry Keoghan, Alicia Vikander, Sean Harris and Joel Edgerton
Directed by David Lowery
Another film caught up in the unfortunate delays which have affected so many releases in the last year or two, ‘The Green Knight’ has finally been able to hit the big screen and be appreciated by audiences across the world. A promising, if fairly typical A24 trailer built a great amount of anticipation for the latest release from up-and-coming director David Lowery, hinting at a twisted and unsettling adaptation of the classic medieval tale of Gawain and the Green Knight, and in many regards the film managed to deliver on its promises.
Firstly, a review of ‘The Green Knight’ wouldn’t be complete without an appreciation for the incredible visuals which define the story. Capturing the mythological nature of the film through a wide range of techniques, cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo brilliantly conveys the themes and aesthetic through visuals alone. The often barren and untouched landscapes which Gawaian travels across are shown with an eye for detail that feels reminiscent of Terrence Malick’s filmography. Another key aspect which Palermo delivers on is his ability to show the status of a character simply through positioning of the camera and their framing within the shot. Dev Patel’s introduction as a young man not yet come-of-age within the first scenes of the film are reinforced by the way that the camera is used, and immediately shows the audience what to make of him.
Speaking of Patel, his performance is another of many great ones from the last few years. Mark Kermode described his body language in 2018’s ‘David Copperfield’ as Chaplin-esque, and Patel carries this same energy and attention to detail into ‘The Green Knight’. As his character develops throughout the narrative, so does the way in which he presents the character of Gawain, beginning as an inexperienced but slightly overly confident boy, and developing into something else entirely after experiencing one hardship after another.
David Lowery is not a director known for his conventional approach to filmmaking or narrative, and will often tell stories in a way unlike many I’ve seen. His slow and hypnotic ‘A Ghost Story’ from 2017 entrances the viewer through its use of simplistic, yet beautiful visuals and story. With ‘The Green Knight’, a more extravagant and action-oriented fantasy tale, Lowery once again thinks outside the box, and delivers brilliant moments within the story that turn all expectations the audience could have had on their head. However, in terms of pacing, the film does suffer as a result, with the final act delivering a very interesting ending, but one which the audience feels like they have to work towards, slightly diminishing the satisfaction of a final resolution somewhat. Despite this, I wouldn’t criticise the director for what he’s trying to do, as I think it’s great to have filmmakers working today who are willing to challenge conventions.
‘The Green Knight’ is a must watch for anyone with a love for beautifully filmed fantasy stories, and I’m sure even those who aren’t interested in such things would still get a lot from it. Dev Patel and Barry Keoghan are both excellent, and I would recommend not giving up the chance to see this one on the big screen.