The Green Knight
One of the most profoundly disappointing movies I have ever seen.
Let’s begin by noting that this film has been highly praised by several critics. Noah Berlatsky notes that it “may not be the greatest film to ever mock Arthurian Legend, but it is a . . . . worthwhile second,” while A. O. Scott of the New York Times says that it is a “movie worth watching twice.”
For a variety of reasons I hate saying this, but it is not a movie worth watching once. It is morbid, confusing and profoundly dull. At the risk of causing many of you to question my movie critic skills, I kept checking my watch to see how much longer I had to endure this 2 hour plus ordeal.
Ironically, I was attracted to this film because it starred two of my favorite actors. Dev Patel, here playing Sir Gawain, has given a number of memorable performances in Slumdog Millionaire (2008), The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015), Hotel Mumbai (2018) and the Personal History of David Copperfield (2019).
Alicia Vikander, who appears in dual roles as Gawain’s lover and seductress, won a Best Supporting Oscar for her role in The Danish Girl (2015). She was also sensational in the tiny, unforgettable 2014 films Testament of Youth and Ex Machina, so she left me smiling as I sat down for this film.
But even these two talented actors couldn’t save this film from sinking in cinematic quicksand. Despite the visionary talent of Director David Lowery, you are forced to endure the journey of Sir Gawain as he leaves King Arthur’s Court to confront the Green Knight, a nasty giant in protective armor. He has a year to find him and challenge a villain who has promised to cut off his head.
Gawain’s journey through a never ending forest leaves you feeling that he will die of boredom before he can confront the Green Knight. In the process he meets giants, thieves, a talking fox and an English Lord (Joel Edgerton) with hidden intentions, and he embraces all of this to try to escape his bawdy, drunken past to achieve some honor in King Arthur’s Court.
But by the film’s conclusion I couldn’t tell who won and who lost. I forgive you, Mr. Patel and Ms. Vikander. Can’t wait to see the two of you in your next films.