Another film to suffer a delayed release date due to the pandemic, The Green Knight brings a new retelling of the Arthurian legend, David Lowery’s epic sees Oscar nominee Dev Patel lead the cast as Gawain, a man who aspires to be knighted and among the company of King Arthur (Sean Harris) and his knights. Whilst celebrating Christmas with the King, the mysterious Green Knight appears and poses a challenge which Gawain accepts. Garwain than must travel a year later to find the Green Knight and allow the latter to strike a blow against him. Based on the legend by Anonymous, Lowery immerses the viewer into the world through striking imagery and innovative sound mixing to create a film that was well worth the wait and more.
David Lowery directs and writes this stunning epic and has proven yet again that he is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is The Green Knight one of his most anticipated projects to date, it sees him collaborate with A24 yet again after the success of his previous film A Ghost Story. The result of which is a phenomenal film that shows Lowery’s mastery as a storyteller whilst also highlighting his growth as a filmmaker.
Dev Patel gives an exceptional performance as Gawain and shows just how far he has come as an actor. Following an extremely varied career which includes an Oscar nomination for 2016’s Lion, Gawain seems like the kind of role Patel was born to play. Due to the nature of the film following Gawain’s journey, a huge portion of the quality of the film relies heavily on Patel’s shoulders and it is his performance that elevates it to a level where you really feel as though you are with the character throughout. Patel’s Gawain is ambitious to a fault and most importantly inexperienced which becomes more apparent the closer he gets to his final destination. The scenes in which Patel encounters the Green Knight are captivating and leave you on the edge of your seat.
Taking on two roles in the film, Alicia Vikander delivers one of the best performances of her career as Gawain’s lover, Essel, a common woman who lives in a brothel and the Lady who Gawain meets on his journey to his encounter with Green Knight. These performances are so different that you could be forgiven for mistaking the roles for two different actresses, however, Vikander has already proven herself as one of the finest actors working. Her performances in 2014’s Ex Machina and 2015’s The Danish Girl are masterclasses in stunning performances with the latter winning Vikander the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her performance as Essel is sweet and innocent as she is happy where she is and her place in the world but longs for Gawain to publicly declare her as his lady. This flows in beautifully to her performance as the Lady who is more sinister and corrupt in her encounters with Gawain. Where Essel desires Gawain’s live and affection, the Lady seems to be driven by lust and sex. Despite their mutual fixation on Gawain, both characters have agency and individual motives that allow them to be strong and rounded in their development.
This film smashes every element but for me, the music composed by Daniel Hart is definitely a highlight. Mixing Medieval sounds with fantasy elements makes this score memorable and hauntingly atmospheric. From the use of Medieval instruments to the lingering choral chants, Hart creates music that utilises the time period and the environment that the world inhabits. Tracks such as “The Giant’s Call” are beautifully fitting as they seem to merge natural sounds within the environment with a perfectly crafted score. It’s as though the score goes hand-in-hand with the scenes, managing to accompany the image and stand out without actually overwhelming the film at any point. Perfectly nuanced yet wide in its range of tone, Hart’s score is one of the best of the year by far.
Overall, The Green Knight is spectacular film that deserves to be seen on the big screen. Definitely worth the wait, Lowery manages to tell an Arthurian legend in a way that hasn’t been done before and mixes this with high fantasy imagery. It’s a film that packs both a visual and emotional impact as we feel Gawain’s struggle to complete his journey physically and mentally.
What did you think of The Green Knight? Let me know in the comments below!
The Green Knight is available to watch on Amazon Prime now!