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THE GREEN KNIGHT (2021) Review

Charlie reviews the belated UK release of a24’s THE GREEN KNIGHT calling lead actor Dev Patel “outstanding” in a career-best performance.

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The Green Knight (a24)

The Green Knight releases on Amazon Prime in the UK on September 24th.

Synopsis

King Arthur’s headstrong nephew embarks on a daring quest to confront the Green Knight, a mysterious giant who appears at Camelot. Risking his head, he sets off on an epic adventure to prove himself before his family and court.

Review

Probably the most highly anticipated indie movie of the year was The Green Knight. Acclaimed director David Lowery is hot-off-the-heels of making what some call Disney’s best live action remake, Pete’s Dragon, the A24 indie darling, A Ghost Story, and the Robert Redford movie, The Old Man and the Gun. Now, after Lowery has made a name for himself in Hollywood, he is taking a crack at the King Arthur mythological tale and it is the most psychedelic and surreal movie you will see this year.

The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men.

Lowery’s latest movie will certainly not be for everyone. It is a deliberate slow-burn that takes its time to slowly make its way to the climax. It is psychedelic in its imagery and has a message of courage that is used in an incredibly artistic way. However, it certainly clicked with me.

From the opening scene, you know that Dev Patel (known for Slumdog Millionaire and Hotel Mumbai) is going to give the finest performance of his career and he certainly delivers. His portrayal of Sir Gawain is thought-provoking, fascinating and different to any other portrayals of the character we have seen before. He truly embodies everything about Gawain and delivers one of the finest, and unique, performances you will see all year.

The supporting cast are excellent too. There are a handful of recognisable faces Gawain meets on his quest and they all play a part in the sweeping story that is being told. From people like Joel Edgerton (known for his stunning performance in Warrior) to Sean Harris (known for playing the villain Solomon Lane in the Mission: Impossible franchise), the cast is well and truly stacked and they all deliver wonderful performances.

However, my main problems with the movie fall down to the pacing and the ambiguousness. Firstly, the movie is way too long and running at just over two hours, you certainly feel the length. If you don’t like movies that are slow in pacing, The Green Knight certainly won’t be for you. Maybe at around ninety to one hundred minutes, the film would have been perfectly paced and ran at a decent speed. Also, moving onto the ambiguousness of the film, there are many scenes that are open to interpretation and some of that worked for me, while other bits didn’t. Some of the events that take place during the third act didn’t quite land for me and left me eye-rolling more than intrigued.

However, the movie is absolutely breathtaking to look at. Every single shot is gorgeous to look at and if there is a cinema near you playing the film this weekend, that will only enhance the experience of watching the film. It slowly puts you into a trance and the shot selection is truly masterful. This is one of those movies that demands to be seen on the biggest screen available to you and it certainly is the highlight of the entire film.

Verdict

The Green Knight is a movie you will either really like or despise. It is a lengthy slow-burn that builds to a hefty conclusion that leaves you lingering for more. Dev Patel is outstanding, delivering a career-best performance while Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris give great supporting roles on Gawain’s journey. However, it does suffer from pacing issues in the second half of the film and is a bit too ambiguous for my taste. Nevertheless, the cinematography is masterful and leaves you in a spellbinding trance for the movie’s two hour runtime.


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