The Green Knight
Photograph: Amazon Prime Video
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The Green Knight

4 out of 5 stars

Dev Patel is terrific as a doomed knight in this spellbinding new spin on Arthurian legend

David Hughes

Time Out says

The legend of King Arthur has inspired filmmakers from Monty Python to Walt Disney, John Boorman to Antoine Fuqua, but the recent tendency has been to ground it in reality: Joe Cornish’s The Kid Who Would Be King was set on a south London council estate and Guy Ritchie’s take on it had Arthur calling everyone ‘mate’. It’s refreshing, then, to see writer-director David Lowery (A Ghost Story) lean into the fantastical elements of the anonymous fourteenth-century poem commonly known as ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’.

In a master stroke of colour-blind casting, Dev Patel plays Gawain, feckless nephew of King Arthur (Sean Harris), who rashly accepts a challenge from the eponymous enchanted warrior, beheading him and agreeing to receive a similar blow in a year’s time. As the momentous day approaches, however, Gawain begins to have misgivings – as well he might – and his journey to the Green Knight’s realm takes on an increasingly doom-laden dimension.

A tale told mainly via startling visuals requires an actor with a singularly expressive face, and Patel rises to the challenge. He strips away knightly courage to reveal the fear lurking behind every so-called ‘hero’. Lowery wittily interprets the original text, adding a sexual dimension and a better ending, and only once strays close to Python terrain (when the ever-brilliant Barry Keoghan pops up as a lolloping scavenger). It’s close to a cinematic holy grail. 

In UK cinemas and on Amazon Prime Sep 24.

Cast and crew

  • Director:David Lowery
  • Screenwriter:David Lowery
  • Cast:
    • Dev Patel
    • Sean Harris
    • Joel Edgerton
    • Alicia Vikander
    • Ralph Ineson
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