The Green Knight is a stunning and lyrical film that completely blew me away with its storytelling and visuals.
Using the 14th-century poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as its launching basis, Lowery’s tale is fantastical and beautiful, telling the tale of a young Gawain (Dev Patel) looking to make his way in the world, of becoming a knight, of serving the King (Sean Harris), winning honour and glory for himself and the kingdom.
On a Christmas day, a strange being walks into the King’s court and suggests a game. It is the Green Knight (Ralph Ineson). He calls on any knight, or man with a sword to lay a blow on him, and then one year hence he will return that blow.
Gawain rises to the challenge, and despite the reminder that it is a game, beheads the being, and claims, what he thinks is victory, but the knight is not dead and reminds Gawain that they will have an appointment next Christmas.
As the festive time draws close he sets out on his quest, unprepared for what he will encounter, the sights he will see, the traps that have been laid, as well as a reckoning and a coming-of-age as he realizes what a man is, his morality, and his place in the world.
The film feels very much like a poem brought to life. The images don’t always have to make sense, they are more about how they make you feel as you join Gawain on his quest, because his feelings are almost akin to yours at the time.
I think Patel is a wonderful actor, and have always enjoyed his performances, and he’s got a great cast around him in supporting roles like Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury and Kate Dickie. But this is very much Patel’s film, and he is front and center through all of it, taking us on Gawain’s journey through odd encounters, unusual allies, and untold dangers.
Neither the story nor the film rushes. It takes its time, letting you absorb the atmosphere and the stunning imagery Leith has captured and created for the film. It doles itself out with a dreamlike quality that plays perfectly to the narrative and atmosphere.
And while I can see why there were some who didn’t care for it, I truly enjoyed how this film played out. In a time when narratives seem to be increasingly rushed, it was refreshing to be able to just take everything in and enjoy a visually beguiling cinematic experience.