July 22, 2021

CINEMA | Dev Patel Mythologizes 'The Green Knight'

"Now little knight, off with your head!"
Dev Patel Alicia Vikander David Lowery | The Green Knight | A24 Films
A24 / Elevation Pictures
Dev Patel stars as the Arthurian figure of Sir Gawain in writer/director David Lowery's modern retelling of the late fourteenth-century poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (author unknown). In this epic medieval fantasy, The Green Knight becomes a majestic yet revisionist Middle English odyssey of chivalric romance set in Lowery's mythical version of Camelot.

Casting the luminous Patel as King Arthur's nephew was the perfect (unconventional) choice just as it was surrounding him with the likes of Alicia Vikander (in dual roles), Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury (as his mother, Morgan Le Fay), and Sean Harris (as an aged version of the King himself). Together, they add to the top-notch mood-piece of mystical imagery in telling the Welsh legend of mythic lore with such dazzling cinematic confidence.

English actor Ralph Ineson (in heavy makeup and costuming) co-stars as the dominating, tree-like eponymous emerald antagonist. His opposition to Patel's self-indulgent libertine turned brave yet still headstrong knight-in-training makes for great contrast in the literary retelling. Lowery seduces you into his film through medieval iconography that hypnotizes our senses and brings you into the Arthurian tale.

Dev Patel Alicia Vikander David Lowery | The Green Knight | A24 Films

Cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo mesmerizes with his stark visuals and a colourful splendor to heighten and lift the contemplative performances on screen. If there are any flaws, it's the methodical middle portion where Lowery and Patel venture into the woods on Gawain's hazy journey to confront the Knight.

How the trippy film translates its tale of legend and mythology through a surrealist mission makes the entire effort so bold and exciting. The Green Knight feels both simultaneously minimalist yet maximalist in its high ambition met with a relatively straightforward narrative of a knight's mission. It's so assured and confident in its vision of a slice of Camelot.

The Green Knight is an enthralling experience told through its mystical storytelling. Lowery's supernatural adaptation is still a timeless hero's journey as filtered through his wholly original lens of classic literature. Everything comes together for a deliberately paced and told modern interpretation of knighthood as a quest for virtue that's just as intriguing as it is enlightening.


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