The Green Knight – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: David Lowery
Starring: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris and Ralph Ineson.
In cinemas September 24th
This film has already faced the ire of Irish cinema-goers when it was pulled from its original Irish and UK release schedule. There was quite the furore on social media and it only helped build the hype for this medieval fantasy adapted from the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. If you’re not familiar with that work, Gawain was a nephew of King Arthur and the story falls within the Arthurian legends.
Patel plays Gawain, the feckless son of Morgan Le Fay (Choudhury). On Christmas morning his mother performs a magic ritual which summons the Green Knight who challenges the court saying that any knight able to land a blow on him will win his green axe. However, that knight must travel to the Green Chapel the following Christmas and receive an equal blow in return. Gawain accepts the challenge and decapitates the challenger. However, he spends the next year fearing his fate while his reputation grows. When the time comes to set off on his quest he encounters all sorts of obstacles that he must overcome in order to fulfil his destiny.
This looks absolutely stunning. The costumes, sets and locations are gorgeous. Patel is suitably noble as the flawed Gawain and he very much carries this film despite sharing the bill with several other very big names. The effects are seamless and never distract from the story. Seemingly even the Green Knight of the title was created using practical effects rather than CGI for his opening scenes which is extremely impressive.
Its underlying message that you can’t run away from yourself is a timeless one and something that will strike a chord with many. However, at times it does get bogged down in its own worthiness. At just over two hours long it drags in places and feels a bit tedious. Also, some of the actors struggle with the more classical language used.
This will probably be a victim of its own hype with people expecting far more than it can give. It is solid and often entertaining fantasy but not as compelling as it seems to aspire to be. A nice distraction from the real world for a couple of hours but the moral of this story doesn’t really linger with you afterwards and it is an easy film to shrug off.