The Green Knight, directed by David Lowery
Reviewed by August Cosentino
You may want to read the Cliff notes (should they exist) before seeing “The Green Knight,” David Lowery’s baffling but beautiful take on an old Arthurian legend from the Round Table days.
To Jeffrey Katzenburg it, Arthur’s nephew Gawain (Dev Patel), caught up in the moment at his uncle’s Round Table, confronts the mythical (and rather tall) Green Knight who barges unannounced into the castle on Christmas Day. Gawain lops off the Knight’s head, on the condition (set by the Knight) that he gets to chop off Gawain’s head in return next Christmas. (Think of it as a BFF gift exchange, except one that involves decapitation.)
Fast forward a year later, as Gawain begins his journey to the Knight’s Green Castle. This quest leads him through lush sylvan woodlands and stunning mountain ranges (the film was shot in Ireland)—carrying no more than an ax, riding a horse (which at one point gets stolen by brigands) and accompanying a fox that more closely resembles a corgi. Along the way, he meets lovely St. Winifred (Erin Kellyman), who may or may not be a spirit, and who asks him to retrieve her severed head from the bottom of a lake (severed heads are a recurring theme in this film.)
With me so far? Good. Further down the road, passing gigantic imaginary creatures that resemble Buddhist monks, he encounters a kinky couple, Lord (Joel Edgarton who at one point gives Gawain a smooch on the lips) and Lord’s gorgeous consort, Essel (Alicia Vikander). The excitement builds as he finally confronts the Green Knight in his lair and prepares to meet his fate. Or does he?
Fortunately Dev Patel, with his dark features and shaggy mane (he looks like a combination of Velasquez’s Juan Pareja and Frank Zappa), adds an element of class to the proceedings. And if nothing else, you will be kept guessing as to the eventual meaning of it all, which three hours later still isn’t entirely clear to me.
If you are a fan of this sort of darkish fantasy genre (candidly, I am not. I didn’t get Game of Thrones, sorry) you might appreciate this film more than we did. PS if my brief explanation didn’t clarify things, do get the Cliff notes before you see the film. If Amazon doesn’t have them, nobody will. Except perhaps for