The Green Knight will officially be released in U.S. cinemas on July 30 with a runtime of 125 minutes. As of right now, it holds a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 96 reviews from critics. The film is directed by David Lowery, who also directed A24’s A Ghost Story.
The Green Knight is based on the Arthurian legend “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, in which Gawain, who is King Arthur’s nephew, embarks on a journey to complete his game with the Green Knight. On this journey, Gawain has to confront many challenges, but also prove his worth to himself and those surrounding him.
Right off the bat, I have to commend Dev Patel. His performance as Gawain was absolutely phenomenal and even when the film was moving at a slow pace, he kept me invested. Through Patel’s performance, you get the feeling that Gawain just wants a sense of belonging. He acts different than the other knights who surround him and all that he is searching for is honor, because he believes that attaining it will make him a changed man. I could feel the doubt, struggles, and the search for something more in life that Gawain was going through in such a visceral way through Patel’s work in The Green Knight.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the performance from Barry Keoghan, even though he was only featured for a few minutes in the film. Keoghan, who played a scavenger, was really the first true test that Gawain had to face on his journey. His character had a deceiving wit about him and while oftentimes a similarly written character may come off as annoying, Keoghan sold it perfectly.
Outside of the exceptional performances, the first thing that stood out to me was the value placed on honor in the film. The word is constantly being thrown around and Gawain’s honor is almost always being challenged. His very game against the Green Knight was nothing but a test, to see if he could truly be an honorable knight. Throughout the entirety of the film, Gawain searches for honor on his way to his destiny of completing his game with the Green Knight.
The final MASSIVELY AWESOME aspect of this film is the camerawork and cinematography. All I can say is… oh my goodness. I can honestly say that I don’t think I have seen a movie that is so incredibly visually stunning since Blade Runner 2049 in 2017. Since Gawain is going on a massive journey to the Green Chapel, they were able to utilize an abundance of different settings, each with a separate feel to them. Each time Gawain reached a new location, it was like experiencing an entirely different world. Colors were also utilized in such an effective way throughout the film, with such a vast variety of landscapes that were explored. I was truly and simply amazed with the cinematography, sitting in awe and almost getting lost in the visuals at times. The director of cinematography for The Green Knight was Andrew Droz Palermo, who deserves major props for helping to deliver this mesmerizing spectacle of a movie.
Coinciding with the cinematography were the notable CGI and effects. There were several characters created through effects in this movie; including a talking fox, gigantic human-like figures, and of course the Green Knight himself. The first two that I listed were definitely CGI, but the Green Knight may have been created practically. In all of these scenes, the effects were never distracting and I really don’t think that they could have made the Green Knight character look any better.
Here are a few images of these characters below:
Like most other A24 films, The Green Knight will undoubtedly not be for everyone. It is unashamedly a slow-burn adventure, taking its time in delivering a character study of Sir Gawain. There are dozens of lingering shots that continuously occur and the vast majority of the film contains no sort of action at all. Therefore, if you are going into The Green Knight expecting a lot of sword fights, you will surely be disappointed.
Along those lines, I do think that there were times when shots would linger for far too long. There are instances when lingering shots are very effective, like in Hereditary, where the audience had to prepare for something lurking around the corner at any second. But, in a film like The Green Knight, it just seemed unnecessary at times, as the shots seem to drag on for no purpose at all besides to show the immersive imagery for a few seconds longer. Because of this, I do think that the film could have been 5-10 minutes shorter. These shots never really took me out of the film, but they did happen more times than I believe were needed.
The final downfall of The Green Knight is that it seems to be more targeted towards those who have read the source material. There are times when scenes are jumping so drastically that it can be hard to understand what is fully happening. So, if you haven’t read the source material, like myself, it may be a little confusing at times. However, that it not completely a bad thing, as the film led me to want to research more about the topic so I could fully grasp what it is presenting on future re-watches.
In the end, The Green Knight is just filmmaking at its finest. Though it isn’t the type of movie that is accessible for everyone, it really isn’t trying to be! The acting is superb, the cinematography is phenomenal, and you really just have to immerse yourself into the beautiful world that it creates to fully appreciate it.
If you are curious at all about seeing The Green Knight, I would ABSOLUTELY recommend it.
As of right now, The Green Knight is my favorite movie of 2021 and near the top of A24’s ever-expanding catalogue, only behind Hereditary and Midsommar. I’m not sure that anything will be able to top it this year. I am definitely looking forward to a plethora of re-watches in the future to better understand this hallucinatory, atypical film.
Rating: 9 out of 10 on the scale of awesomeness.
Thank you so much for reading my review of The Green Knight. I am so thankful that I was able to witness this piece of art from David Lowery. Feel free to let me know what you thought of the movie in the comments! And as always…
CINEMA LOVERS UNITE!