The Green Knight Review: Epic Arthouse

The Green Knight image of Dev Patel as Sir Gawain

The Green Knight, written and directed by David Lowery and starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, and Joel Edgerton, starts boring. Still, the film picks up speed as Gawain (Dev Patel) sets off on a quest to confront the Green Knight he beheaded a year prior. That’s when we get some lively scenes that audiences can discuss. The direction and colors are lush but overcast with a gloomy, weathered quality. The Green Knight shows there’s more here than a period piece swathed in arthouse stylings. 

The Green Knight Has Epic Story Moments

The story is reminiscent of a fevered dream quest or drug trip as Gawain confronts fantastical situations and beings. Gawain lives a carefree life but wants to do something worthy of knighthood. When he attends a holiday party, his uncle, the king, is throwing and the Green Knight arrives, challenging any man to attack him; it seems a simple way to gain notoriety. The Green Knight allows any combatant a free shot, but a year from that day, the person would have to come to the Green Knight’s place and allow him a free strike in kind. 

Viewers will laugh because not only is Gawain duped when the Green Knight offers a free shot, but before Gawain, a novice in combat, strikes the Green Knight, he brags that everyone should remember what he does in the fight. Easy to attack what isn’t fighting back. So Gawain struts his newbie might with the Green Knight, who shortly arises and reminds Gawain that he will get his comeuppance in a year. A year can pass like days when death is at the end of it. So as the year mark approaches, Gawain sets out to meet the Green Knight on their turf.

The Green Knight Has Standout Acting Despite Drag

The Green Knight image of Dev Patel as Sir Gawain holding an ax upraised in his hand as he yells.
The Green Knight courtesy of A24

Some parts of the story drag a bit. The beginning was arduous to get through until the Green Knight’s arrival. Once Gawain sets out on his journey, the story picks up because of Gawain’s encounters. Direction is stunning throughout but shines during Gawain’s journey. The shots bring to mind book storytelling brought to life onscreen. A section gave the anime geek in me Attack on Titan vibes, which I loved and appreciated. Only one part creeped me out, and that’s because holes and body horror, however minor, have a long-lasting impact in my psyche. 

You don’t have to be knowledgeable on medieval lore or read the story the film’s based Sir Gawain and The Green Knight to enjoy. Although, people who have will get more from the film. All the acting is top-notch, with Dev Patel standing out among the star pack. The visuals, however, are so breathtaking, one could become entranced on that alone. You will rewind certain scenes moreso for the visual splendor than anything else. This is not a criticism of the cast, who are dynamic and engaging but speaks to the luxuriant color in each scene. The scope itself is breathtaking. 

Fans of Different Genres Rejoice
A24 The Green Knight Youtube trailer

The Green Knight may seem niche, playing to a particular market; but, thanks to its cast and story, the film can appeal to others, not solely fans of A24 or epic medieval tales. It may seem like a simple hero’s journey, but the trip is anything but simple. There are fantasy elements combined with horror flashes, romance, and comedy. The time spent watching this will be time well spent. 

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