Dev Patel and David Lowery give Arthurian legend a new coat of A24 dread in The Green Knight - The A.V. Club
Jul 26, 2021 1 min, 36 secs
Rich with atmosphere and metaphor, propelled by a soundtrack of hollow strums and whispering strings, David Lowery’s The Green Knight is a kind of artisanal fantasy epic, whittling Arthurian legend into the rough shape of one of distributor A24’s arty horror mood pieces.

That’s how the author, unknown to this day, described the towering challenger of his Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, and how everyone from J.R.R.

A staple of academic study, Sir Gawain And The Green Knight has inspired endless interpretations and thematic readings over the ages.

In shortening the title, Lowery lends it a dual meaning: The other “green” knight here is Gawain himself, played by reigning authority on plucky young strivers Dev Patel.

It’s the young man’s insecurity about his own lack of accomplishments that inspires him to accept the challenge of the Green Knight, landing a blow that the hulking visitor will return in kind one year later.

Like its source material, The Green Knight has an episodic structure, but most of the episodes don’t resolve in simple or reductively instructive ways.

The Green Knight complicates it, however, by casting Alicia Vikander in a dual role as both the stranger’s flirtatious wife and Gawain’s sweetheart back in Camelot.

Here, the Texas writer-director revels in the opportunity to create image after image worthy of immortalization: The Green Knight is his most purely striking achievement, offering sprawling forests bathed in ghostly orange light and overhead shots that suggest the surveying eye of a curious god.

But though Lowery resists committing to any one popular take on this anonymously penned cornerstone of world literature, instead riffing on its key motifs (that green girdle) and the centuries of discussion they’ve provoked, he does ultimately locate a relatable subversion of legend in his depiction of Gawain as a young man wrestling mightily with the consequences and responsibilities of delayed manhood


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