The Green Knight is an awful movie. I’m not going to be easy. It’s distributed by A24, which should tell you before the credits roll what you’re in for. And I must admit, for a while, it did seem like it was going to be a nice Game of Thrones meets Excalibur type of movie with scenes of sex and violence.
Then, it all goes downhill from there. Downhill is too pleasant. It’s like the ground burst open and this plot jumped like Greg Louganis into a bottomless pit where every student film since the dawn of man and all David Lynchian wannabe flicks reside. The director is David Lowery who is actually not a bad director. I liked his remake of Pete’s Dragon and The Old Man & The Gun was a nice swan song for Robert Redford as a leading man.
But Lowery also did A Ghost Story, that movie in which Casey Affleck spends most of the movie covered by a huge bed sheet, because he’s a ghost. Even that was more better made than this movie. The theatrical poster makes it look like it’s a fantasy action adventure movie as Gawain (Dev Patel) whose name is pronounced by everyone as Gerwin, is hoisting an axe in the air. Now, people make have pronounced Gawain’s name that way back then but it’s one of many things that irritate me about this movie.
On Christmas Day before King Arthur at his court at Camelot where a woman who is supposed to be Morgan le Fay summons the Green Knight who proposes any knight who battle him and issue a blow on his neck must take his green axe to the Green Chapel the following Christmas to get an equal blow. Gawain accepts the challenge and uses Excalibur to behead the Knight.
And that’s about as much action as the rest of the movie has. There’s a lot of walking and talking and dreamlike sequences as Gawain travels along the countryside. I’ve never seen much of GoT, but I like what John Boorman did with Excalibur. But that movie still managed to tell a coherent story with its fantasy tone and eerie visuals. It’s obviously Lowery was influenced by Boorman and the works of Terry Gilliam (who also co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail).
Alicia Vikander pops up in two roles. One in which she is Essel, Gawain’s lover. Another in which she is a Lady of where Gawain is shown hospitality. The Lady gives him a girdle he can’t remove. But both roles are thankless for Vikander who has proven herself to be a great actress since she burst on the scene over 10 years ago.
Just over two hours, this movie meanders worse than Gawain’s journey at times. If it had been an hour and a half, it might have been better. But there’s so many scenes in here that just are boring. And I know people will say, “You just don’t get it.”
No, I got it. You don’t get to say that. Post-Modern visuals don’t mean much if you really don’t care about the characters or the plot. Patel is a good actor but here he seems just as tiresome as his character. Yes, we’ve come to expect knights in movies to be more noble and heroic, but at times, I felt Gawain was just some wimp who got a lucky blow in.
There’s also a sequence at the end that invokes the final act of The Last Temptation of Christ. But Martin Scorsese did it better. Lowery isn’t just some geeky director still making student films of better movies like Ari Aster does. But this isn’t one of his best works. And I feel a lot of people expecting a more traditional Arthurian legend movie will find themselves in a Terrence Malick snoozefest.
What do you think? Please comment.