‘A24’ puts a unique, refreshing twist on an old Arthurian legend in ‘The Green Knight’

Dev Patel in the film “The Green Knight.” Credit: Eric Zachanowich/Courtesy A24 via TNS

Nearly two years since A24 released their highest-grossing film to date, “Uncut Gems,” the indie film studio is back in theaters with the release of “The Green Knight.”

Director David Lowery and Dev Patel, who plays Sir Gawain in the film, helped bring epic fantasy back to cinemas with this stunning picture. Lowery’s faithful, yet unique adaptation of an old Arthurian legend has exceeded expectations at the box office during a time when theaters and film studios are struggling immensely to make profit.

Amongst elements of spirituality, death and existence, the audience follows the flawed protagonist Sir Gawain, a man who seemingly has yet to find any purpose for himself, on a quest to live up to his family’s and his own expectations of his true identity.

While seeking genuine worthiness of a chair at his uncle King Arthur’s round table, Gawain goes on an epic journey and encounters multiple creatures throughout his adventures. Whether he passes them or not can be unclear at times, as this film goes in many different directions, straying away from the norm in thought-provoking ways.

What separates this film from most fantasy seen on the big screen is the use of bold storytelling, outstanding cinematography and a plethora of authentic sets. As most A24 films go, the production and $15 million budget of this project was relatively small, which makes its authenticity even more impressive.

The use of color, wardrobe and top-tier sets immerses moviegoers into the world, and it truly feels like the viewer is along for the ride in a unique theater experience. The surreal and hypnotic nature of this film allows the viewer to connect with the story as if they are going through the events themselves — something that has been lacking in the genre not only as of late, but for many years.

The set for the town of Camelot was reminiscent of “Game of Thrones,” which is wildly impressive for a relatively low-budget movie. The filmmakers captured the ambiance of what those towns were truly like in a more realistic style: King Arthur’s castle was authentic in its architecture and captured the mood for the tone of the film, while his round table was also stunning and shown through a different, colder lens than its typical, warm portrayal in other media.

Though some may have issues with the pacing of this film, as it is an incredibly slow burn, this can also be viewed as something that often goes unappreciated in the age of fast-paced action and superhero movies such as “The Avengers” or “The Dark Knight.”

“The Green Knight” is not a happy story. The hero does not slay the dragon or save the princess. Sir Gawain is willing to do anything in his power to find honor in the eyes of his family, which occasionally means backstabbing people –– not incredibly honorable –– and, in turn, being stabbed in the back by others.

There are plenty of dark mind tricks played on Sir Gawain and the audience alike that make one rethink what is being shown on the screen. The storytelling plays out in a wholly unique way, reflective of an unreliable narrator, as the audience has just as little clue about what is happening as Sir Gawain. This slow-burning story fails to make sense until the very end.

“The Green Knight” is not the average fantasy movie, and it is certainly not the average hero movie. This may be dissatisfying for some, and the movie can certainly be difficult to follow at times, especially for those looking for a less confusing film to watch. For the patient moviegoer, “The Green Knight” provides something valuable; otherwise, it may be more to handle than it’s worth.

However, this is a hero’s quest unlike anything we have seen before, and it is completely innovative amongst the genre in its storytelling and style. Sir Gawain is not the mainstream, perfect hero who does no wrong, and he is, in turn, that much more relatable. Each of his flaws can resonate with an audience and make him a more personable protagonist, one that the viewers will relate to because at the end of the day, he is human like us.

“The Green Knight” is in theaters and now available on multiple streaming platforms. Rating: 3.5/5

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