Here’s your review of The Green Knight.
Hoo boy. I have no idea how to review this movie. On the one hand, it’s very well produced and filmed beautifully. It’s well-acted and by no means is written in a lazy or stupid manner, in fact, quite the opposite.
This means, on the other hand, it’s a chore to watch and requires some reading from various google searches like “Green Knight movie explained.”
Look, I like an intelligent movie, one that makes you think, but there is this weird line between “intelligent and thought-provoking” and “opaque mindf**k that feels like something you were required to watch in high school.”
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love is a great example of something that makes you think, that has layers upon layers of symbolism and yet is easily accessible to your average filmgoer. The Green Knight is not. My wife is a great barometer for this as many times throughout the movie, she was asking:
“NOW what the heck is this?”
When you ask questions about a movie that is clearly a noble attempt and a swing for the fences kind of retelling of a classic story, it’s hard to call it out as “bad” just because you have to prepare for inevitable snobs looking down on you as unintelligent. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not bad. But it is a bit up its own ass.
Being opaque or making it difficult to understand what’s going on is not a substitute for thought-provoking. I’m sure the more I watched this, I would see things more and more. Quite frankly reading through some interpretations of the movie also helps. And maybe that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with something being a little more out there than your average movie.
I really admire what the creators were trying to accomplish here and they may have succeeded. But I also don’t like a movie that feels more like work than it should. This is why this makes it difficult to review and score. Is it a bad movie? Absolutely not. Is it an enjoyable movie, is it moving? Well, that’s more where you, the viewer, are going to have to make up your own mind.
I will say that there should’ve been a bit more effort in explaining a bit of the setup. If you only have a passing familiarity with the Arthurian legends as I do, then you might not know who some of these people are supposed to be. Gawain is Arthur’s nephew but his mother is Morgan Le Fey which was not apparent to me at all. That and some of the actors growl their lines making it all the more difficult to understand what they just said.
I would say to give it a go. After a diet of sugary MCU and Star Wars, it’s a good idea to have some healthy vegetables and push yourself intellectually a little bit. But that’s what you’re in for with this movie – work!
You have to pay attention and may find yourself pausing and thinking about the little vignette you just saw. There’s a ton of imagery and ideas going on in The Green Knight. You just have to be in the right frame of mind to uncover them.