Something about The Green Knight doesn’t click. It’s a gorgeous film made more so by workhorse actor Dev Patel’s face, yet it never escapes the confines of its source material; sometimes Arthurian poems don’t translate well to 21st-century cinema. But hey, it’s worth an attempt . In the pale gray color-schemed Middle Ages, King Arthur’s (Sean Harris) nephew, Gawain (Patel), is challenged by the mysterious Green Knight (a man who is half tree, apparently), after which Gawain receives the respect of beheading tree-man and therefore the fame that comes alongside that. The catch, however, is that, in return, he must take an equal blow from Sir pine during a year’s time. On the trail to satisfy his oath, he meets Odyssey-Esque obstacles that bring his desire for myth-making into question. What’s real? Ask Sir pine.
Director David Lowery presents a slow, slow experience here. And whereas fans of Lowery’s Casey Affleck-in-a-sheet led A Ghost Story from 2017 might feel right reception with the poetic meditation on-screen in Green Knight, the remainder might want to understand that, in lieu of battles and sword fights, we mainly see Gawain wander the woods and meet some sexy maidens.
But then, nothing about The Green Knight is an example of bad filmmaking, save an overabundance of fades used for purposes I cannot grasp. It quickly takes the mantle because the year’s best-looking film with Lowery’s eye for period-era lighting creating an environment of mystique and emotional voids.
At its heart lies the futility of heroic deeds and therefore the idea of destiny and fame never translating into what one would expect. To its credit, quite a little bit of The Green Knight lingers, enough that I’d wish to experience it a second time to ascertain where it lands. Still, Lowery’s latest opus is going to be a love-it-or-hate-it picture that’ll either lull you into a much-needed nap or into the weeds of thought provocation. Be prepared for either possibility.