Movie Review: The Green Knight
Credit goes to the people who came up with the very compelling trailer for this movie. It was a complete bait-and-switch that fooled my girlfriend and I. Ha ha, you got us. I hope you reap what you sow.
In colloquial terms, this is not a "normal" movie, not a movie designed for mass market appeal. You might call it artsy, but to me it was self-indulgent dreck that I hope to scare you off. I'm serious, I don't think any amount of drugs can turn this movie into an enjoyable experience.
Let's start with the music. Sad to say I don't have the lexicon to specify it precisely, but they made use of loud, high-pitched female vocals that sounded vaguely religious. It certainly felt medieval, but they used them constantly. Instead of using them tactically to underscore or enhance a scene, they just kept assaulting my ears with it more and more as the movie progressed. It was akin to reading triple exclamation marks after every sentence.
The story is a very abstract hero's journey. The main character, Garwin, is not a knight despite being the king's nephew and the fact that everyone addresses him as one. That's sort of the point. He wants to prove himself. A chance comes on Christmas Eve when the Green Knight comes and lays down a challenge: see if you can land a blow on me, but whatever you give me I'll return to you in a year's time. Quickly establishing his stupidity cred, Garwin takes its head off using the king's sword.
Now's a good time to mention that they throw up a lot of text messages during the movie. Being artsy asses they wouldn't dare use voice-over, but they make abundant use of chapter headings and place indications. Normally I wouldn't complain about that, but in their case they use a very stylized sorta-kinda gothic font that is very hard to read in the half-second that they flashed these messages on screen. Several times my girlfriend asked me what they said because she couldn't read them. I could often only provide her the first word or so because the damnable font is so visually confounding. I took it as a personal screw-you from the moviemakers.
So the movie sets Garwin on his quest to be a knight or man or something other than the slimy piece of shit that he is. Slimy? Oh yes, he has a paramour that he uses badly and discards. He also spends the year leading to his next meeting with the Green Knight getting drunk every night. He is not an underdog. He is not likable. He is not interesting. He's a boring, weak, spoiled rich boy (with a witch mother) with nothing engaging to observe in him.
It doesn't help that the movie is shot in relentlessly depressing light. It's like the part of Excalibur when, the king being out of favor with the Lord, the land is blighted. Seriously, there isn't a single shot with the sun in it. I noticed one peripheral scrap of blue sky in one scene. It's bleak. And these guys don't do anything subtle or understated, so that bleakness is one long blazing note of shit through the entire movie.
Anyway, Garwin goes on his quest. It's shot in the same landscape as Monty Python's The Search for the Holy Grail. At least it looks that way, all scrabby browns and mud and desolation. He gets robbed. He starves. He's befriended by a fox. He generally has a miserable time until he's almost there. He literally falls down on the doorstep of some manor house where they patch him up. What does our knight do? He bangs his host's wife because, you know, he's so tragically flawed. To the asses that made the movie, no doubt that woman represented a test for the 'hero' on his Campbell journey. I don't care. The execution was bizarre and off-putting.
You get the vibe, right? My girlfriend suggested we walk out, but I kept watching both because I paid my money and I'm trying to be open minded about it. We get a bizarre ending to the movie, but WAIT, there's more. That ending was just a vision. So after suffering through a very surreal, bizarre, bleak vision of Garwin's future, we rewind and get the ending I originally expected.
I say to hell with the false ending. I say to hell with the unreadable font. I to hell with the relentlessly depressing tone. I to hell with the ear-splitting singing voice over and over and over.
This is the point where I might point out specific mistakes and highlight the good bits that shine through, but this movie doesn't deserve any analysis. Also, there weren't any good bits. This was the worst movie I can remember paying to see. Watch it at your own peril.
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