‘I fear I am not meant for greatness...’
It used to be that Hollywood would take risks on arty, standalone projects regularly. Since the advent of the MCU; however, it has become increasingly rare to see a big budget movie with ambition in multiplexes. Independent production company A24 (responsible for Lady Bird, Hereditary, The Lighthouse and many others) are often a sole voice of artistic integrity against the cacophony of bright colours and loud noises that make up modern day cinema. The Green Knight, from writer-director David Lowery (A Ghost Story) is yet another ambitious swing for the fences that proves that there is still a place for high concept movies on the cinematic landscape…
Gawain (Dev Patel) is a terrible knight. He succumbs to temptation. He isn’t brave, bold or courageous. His only friend is a talking fox. And yet, he is chosen by the mythical Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) for a unique challenge. Gawain must earn his knighthood, but not before a number of encounters with The Lord (Joel Edgerton), the King (Sean Harris) and the aforementioned talking fox.
Based on the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Lowery’s film sits snugly between Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings with a little bit of David Lynch thrown in for good measure. Patel does a great job in capturing the doubt and hubris of Gawain, and the ensemble supporting cast make up a rotating list of characters that only serve to confuse Gawain, and by extension the viewer, in a way that is enigmatic and mysterious rather than irritating.
The Green Knight won’t be for everyone. Like much of A24’s output, this is an art film disguised as mainstream cinema, and while not everything here works, it is heartening to see a filmmaker as singular as David Lowery given the opportunity to try something different. Well worth a look.