The Green Knight is a retelling of the medieval chivalric romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Dev Patel, who is known for Slumdog Millionaire, and Lion, plays Sir Gawain in The Green Knight. Gawain is the son of ancient witch Morgan Le Fay and nephew to King Arthur himself in this adaptation. He wishes above all to become a noble knight, to honor his heritage. Sir Gawain decided to leave his love, Essel (played by Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander), back in Camelot to embark upon a journey to find and confront the titular Green Knight.
Patel carries the narrative weight nobly (pun intended) and portrays the young Gawain as both flawed and naïve, as well as resourceful and pious. The characters speak medieval English, often in very hushed tones. At times it could be hard to follow. I feel fortunate that I watched it on streaming so I could turn on subtitles. The pacing also makes at-home viewing preferable as certain shots can linger long after the artistic intent is achieved. Monologues also drag at times.
Like any literature, what unfolds in The Green Knight is up to interpretation.
The color green plays dual roles in The Green Knight, simultaneously symbolizing life and death. However, the lines between the two are blurred when Gawain finally arrives at the Green Chapel and has a vision of his life should he return to Camelot. The final act unfolds with very few words spoken for the majority, though what transpires is clear. This is a testament to the skillful and vivid direction, as well as the performances. Refreshingly, the special effects, costumes, and makeup are all in service of the story.
I give The Green Knight an 8.5 out of 10. This artistic fantasy movie isn’t necessarily fit for mass consumption. But its expert direction and award-worthy performance by Patel should appease fantasy fans and film buffs.
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Visit The Green Knight site.