Rarely do low-budget indie films come along that build an expansive world with immersive visuals and a grand vision, but THE GREEN KNIGHT makes it look effortless. With a meager 15 million dollar budget, David Lowery’s new vision contains some of the most impressive visuals in any film since Covid began. Every single shot resembles a painting from 1300s England brought back to life through modern film. However, while the visuals and immaculate sound design may be what attracts the viewers’ senses, it’s the mysterious themes and meaningful stops on this perilous journey that make this film one worth checking out.
The first thing people must know before they take this odd and often confusing ride is that it is definitely not for everybody. Long periods of time go by in THE GREEN KNIGHT where viewers will have little idea as to what is happening or why. Many of the burning questions one may have do not get answered by the end of the film, and the resolution may leave some wholly unsatisfied with the direction the story takes. However, the weird and often psychedelic path Lowery carves for his film made every second worth it for me, and by the end I could have composed a dissertation on the motifs and morals expressed by Sir Gawain and The Green Knight.
The performances are also fantastic all around, with Dev Patel showing off his range as Sir Gawain, Alicia Vikander delivering one of the finest monologues of the year, and Barry Keoghan making a lasting impact with only two scenes.
The dreamy atmosphere is part of why THE GREEN KNIGHT sucked me in so much, and while much of this is due to the amazing visual effects and Lowery’s impeccable direction, I also credit Daniel Hart’s enchanting score. The music adds to the somewhat off-kilter vibe the film exudes, and sometimes it even contradicts the connotation of the actions happening on-screen, giving gentler scenes a feeling of existential dread underneath.
THE GREEN KNIGHT is a movie that’s difficult to rationalize without spoiling the details of each stop Gawain takes on his tour, but in the end I found this to be one of the more unique and thought-provoking theater experiences of late. I left the theater thinking about my own mortality, whether it is better to live longer and in misery or die young and hungry, and the ways in which hubris can be the downfall of man (those who love Greek literature or works by Homer will adore this film). Despite the oddness of the film, I still felt all of the emotions I needed to feel and will be thinking about the events of the movie for weeks. To me, that means the movie did everything it needed to.