Disastrous movie dares you to leave theatre

Length: 130 minutes
Director: David Lowery
Cast: Dev Patel, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

In theatres from 23 September 2021 (Singapore)

There are indie films, and then there are indie films.

Some of them are award winning movies that shed light on social inequality, like celebrated director Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite (2019), or those that propel their actors to win awards like how J.K. Simmons garnered 40 accolades for his intense psychopathic portrayal of a ruthless jazz instructor in Whiplash (2014).

And then there are those that are dull, incomprehensible and award-winningly boring.

The Green Knight is one such walking disaster. If you have never endured bad movies in your lifetime, it would behoove you to watch it, just to witness how a film can inflict over two hours of excruciating, mind-numbing pain.

As part of a balanced review, I acknowledge that there are some redeeming bits of the movie, based on the old poem from Arthurian legends, Sir Gawain And The Green Knight. Even so, I do so with tremendous reluctance.

Director David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, The Old Man & the Gun) possibly made his only good judgement call to shoot his little project in various spots around Ireland. The result is a visual feast for the eyes, which roils over the misty and spectacularly verdant terrains of the Irish countryside and its famed castles, bringing viewers right into the rapturous medieval world of the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

But alas, that is all that is beyond reproach. King Arthur (Sean Harris) and his Queen Guinevere (Kate Dickie) are sickly and frail, Gawain (Dev Patel) is not really a knight, and there is not really a plot nor a coherent story.

Dev Patel as Gawain in the Green Knight. (Photo courtesy of Shaw Organisation)

Dev Patel as Gawain in the Green Knight. (Photo courtesy of Shaw Organisation)

Gawain is a philanderer and a deadbeat son to Morgana Le Fay (Sarita Choudhury), sister to King Arthur and a witch hated by all of Camelot. Basically, this is a coming-of-age story about our young knight-to-be. 

An otherworldly Green Knight creature (Ralph Ineson) comes along one fine Christmas, issuing a challenge to anyone to strike him in a duel, but to receive, a year later, the same blow they dole out to him .

As part of the game, Gawain decapitates the Green Knight. He is held to account by King Arthur, and a year later is forced to make a journey he doesn’t want to, in order to hold up his end of the deal.

I felt like a hapless prisoner myself, watching Dev Patel ruin all the street cred that he’s built up since the seven BAFTAs from Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

His knightly quest is a hodgepodge of meaningless scenes where he is filmed for minutes riding a horse doing nothing, picking up a skull from a river to return to a maid who can’t decide if she’s dead or alive, trying to get a Grab Hitch from a troupe of wandering giants from Attack On Titan, and ejaculating on the green belt that his mother gave him as a keepsake charm.

What the bloody green heck.

It’s not clear whether Gawain’s journey was to find courage and become the royal nephew and knight he was supposed to become, or if he was totally imagining what his life could’ve been after getting high on some magic mushrooms.

Even the music was a dissonant and cacophonous orchestral nightmare that didn’t match the scenes that it was supposed to be accompanying. It felt like composer Daniel Hart used a bunch of baboons to play on instruments while shooting them with arrows.

It’s as if David Lowery was trying to dare movie audiences to leave the theatre midway. If that was his goal, then congratulations, Dave.

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