The Reel Review
Dev Patel stars as King Arthur’s nephew Gawain in this epic medieval fantasy film from writer/director David Lowery. After accepting a challenge to behead the mystical Green Knight, Gawain must find him a year later to make good on a vow to prove he is worthy to become a knight. It is an adaptation from the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
The Green Knight is a visually intriguing but absolutely baffling film with an incohesive, unfocused story. Just as he did in 2016’s Pete’s Dragon, Lowery takes his sweet time developing the plot, instead directing his energy on visual imagery. In Pete’s Dragon, it worked. This time it is just a beautiful, hot mess.
That said, Dev Patel does a fine job as our protagonist who is uncertain if he possesses the qualities to become a knight. The ensemble cast – Alicia Vikander as Gawain’s love interest, Sean Harris and Kate Dickie as the King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, and Joel Edgerton as the lord – add color to the mediocre script, despite being underutilized. The CGI fox is also annoyingly fake looking compared to all the other, more interesting visual effects. The film finally finds its footing in the clever, ambiguous finale but the journey to get there is just littered with too many frustratingly missed opportunities to make it worth the effort.
• Writer/director David Lowery says he got the idea for The Green Knight while creating a diorama of action figures in his backyard from the 1988 fantasy action film Willow.
• Initially planning to cast a white actor for the role of the Anglo-Saxon Gawain, Lowery cast Dev Patel after noting how regal he looked in designer Ermenegildo Zegna’s 2018 fashion campaign.
• Sean Harris and Kate Dickie, who star as King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, also both appeared in 2012’s Prometheus.