Director: David Lowery
Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan
Runtime: 2 hrs 10 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes and Nudity)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 23 September 2021
Synopsis: An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, THE GREEN KNIGHT tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur's reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men.
English actor Dev Patel first caught our attention when he portrayed the earnest and idealistic Jamal Malik in Danny Boyle’s ecstatic drama Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Patel was 19 years old then, and 13 years later, he has successfully transited into an actor with range. He has taken on light hearted roles (2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its 2015 sequel), and proved himself to be a serious actor in Lion (2016) and Hotel Mumbai (2018). The 31 year old’s latest performance in David Lowery’s medieval fantasy film may be the most heavy hearted and sullen one in his career.
Adapted from the 14th century poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, the movie’s protagonist is Patel’s Gawain (for the uninitiated, he is King Arthur’s nephew) who goes on a laborious journey to test his courage. The back story has it that Gawain, who was once a reckless young man wanting to prove his worth, took up the challenge to strike The Green Knight, a mysterious creature who showed up unannounced during a Christmas meal. So what’s the deal here? Exactly one year later, Gawain must seek out The Green Knight and have the blow returned.
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The 14th century setting is a gloomy yet hauntingly beautiful one. There are people laughing and drinking, but you can tell they are drowning their troubles with alcohol. The cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo is visually poetic, and it draws viewers into a world which we once thought only words can describe.
After the exchange with The Green Knight, we see Gawain’s personality gradually change as he begins to realise that he has to fulfil his promise one year later. As we follow him across the vast lands to seek down The Green Knight, we encounter the different episodes which are just as bewildering as the film’s introduction. There is a scavenger (the ever so creepy Barry Keoghan) scouring the battlefield (sadly littered with dead warriors) for survival. There is a ghost of a young woman (Erin Kellyman) who wants to retrieve her head from a river. There is a strange Lord (Joel Edgerton) and his seductive Lady (Alicia Vikander) who have the oddest intentions. There is also a fox that Gawain befriends.
We’ve seen Lowery direct family friendly fare (Disney’s 2016 live action adaptation of Pete’s Dragon), and soulful dramas (2018’s The Old Man & The Gun). His most personal work seems to be 2017’s A Ghost Story starring starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck. With the higher budget, the American filmmaker has managed to retain his signature low key moodiness that is devastatingly striking for the senses.
(The film is hauntingly beautiful to look at, and invites viewers to visit the barest, darkest corners of the human soul)
Review by John Li