D: David Lowery
A24 / Ley Line / Bron Creative / Wild Atlantic / Sailor Bear (Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnson, David Lowery, Tim Headington & Theresa Steele Page)
US/Canada 🇺🇸🇨🇦 2021
W: David Lowery [based on the folktale “Sir Gawain & The Green Knight”]
DP: Andrew Droz Palermo
Ed: David Lowery
Mus: Daniel Hart
PD: Jade Healy
Cos: Malgosia Turzanska
Dev Patel (Sir Gawain), Alicia Vikander (Essel / The Lady), Joel Edgerton (The Lord), Sean Harris (King Arthur), Sarita Choudhury (Morgan le Fay), Ralph Ineson (The Green Knight)
The Green Knight is a film I wanted to enjoy a lot more than I actually did, and it’s mostly due to it being a little too arthouse for my tastes. David Lowery has a directorial style which will make film students and graduates drool, but will have very limited appeal outside them circles.
Lowery also penned the screenplay, which is an adaptation of an old English folktale that is lesser known than other Arthurian legends that emerged around the same period.
The plot sees The Green Knight present a challenge to the knights of King Arthur, and the swordsman who lays a strike upon the eponymous character must meet him again a year later to fulfil the duel.
Gawain, a relative of the king, takes on the challenge, and a year later must fulfil his end of the bargain by travelling out beyond the woods to face the knight again, where he is tested on his chivalry, charity and bravery.
Though the film looks fantastic, with atmospheric photography, spectacular makeup & visual effects, excellent costumes and haunting music, the narrative is a little too unorthodox and may require a little knowledge/homework prior to watching.
Personally, I’m fine with a film not talking down to its audience, but at the same time a film should also be self-contained, and this where The Green Knight fails. There’s far too much which isn’t mentioned during the build up, and is only hinted at with subliminal dialogue and mis-en-scene, which will most likely be missed if you’re not looking for things (or are a historian on medieval folklore).
Beautifully shot, it may be, but the performances and story just didn’t work for me and I’d have to say that the film overall is less than the sum of all its parts.