Critics and fans are split on David Lowrey’s The Green Knight. Critics are overwhelmingly gushing over the film, and it currently holds a 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. With fans, however, the film is less impressive and presently has a C+ Cinemascore among surveyed viewers. Despite the clear division, positive and negative reviews amongst fans and critics praise the film’s stunning visuals. We are in complete agreement. Add in brilliant performances by the cast, and you have a film that is difficult to knock down.
The Green Knight may be one of the most visually beautiful films we’ve reviewed. The film has some key visual characteristics that create an overall design language. On one level, you have the beauty and impressive visual accuracy of the period. Set during the Middle Ages, the story features a dark, damp, and dreary Camelot, a more realistic take on the gleaming city on the hill. The city’s people look oddly at home in their setting and miserable while adding to the look and feel of a medieval kingdom. Once you leave the kingdom, sweeping lush green landscapes and misty pastures offer a visual sense of adventure and frontier. It all comes together to sell the setting of medieval Europe.
The other part of the visual language of The Green Knight has to do with the fantasy elements of the story. The director of photography, Andrew Droz Palermo, pulled out all the stops for the film’s fantastical scenes. Each one feels suspended in the air like a dream. The scenes are both beautiful and horrific at the same time. Despite the stylized qualities of the fantastical visuals, the scenes fit comfortably within the more realistic visual language of the film. You get to have your cake and eat it too.
Sealing the Deal
The cast of The Green Knight offers some career-high performances. Particularly with Dev Patel. He owns the role of Gawain, and you feel directly honed into his hopes, fears, and struggles. Alicia Vikander plays double duty and showcases her gravitas as an actress. Her performance is captivating, particularly in the second half of the film. This only highlights the complete powerhouse assortment of actors throughout the film. Everyone gives a stellar, multi-layered performance that adds a bit of mystery, intrigue, and eeriness to the legendary Arthurian tale.