This fantasy tale takes place in the medieval times of King Arthurs and his knights. It is based on a 14th century poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. Gawain is a nephew to King Arthur. The story takes us on the adventures he takes as he tries to gain the respect of his uncle and public in general, and be worthy of a place in King Arthur’s legendary knights of the round table. He gets this opportunity on Christmas Day when a mystical giant Green Knight challenges anyone to take on a test of courage with him. Naturally Gawain accepts and we get to follow his journey and adventures that follow as a result of this.
The Green Knight is filled with magical and fantastical elements like ghosts, giants, thieves and a fox, that should keep fantasy fans entertained and engrossed. It has a familiar fairy tale nature about it and yet, unfamiliar as the tale takes us through some unexpected twists and turns. Casting Dev Patel, a non Caucasian as the role of Gawain may seem like a bold move on the part of the film makers and I thought it was a good casting choice. Dev Patel is a very capable actor and he owns the role right from the start, which means his race never becomes a distraction or issue. The film is directed and written for the screen by David Lowery who is no stranger to the fantasy genre having directed Pete’s Dragon. His more recent effort was more arthouse material, A Ghost Story with Casey Affleck. Here, Lowery demonstrates his ease in handling fantasy movies and shows his capability as a good story teller.
What felt lacking in the Green Knight for me was the absence of any truly likeable character. While Sir Gawain is obviously the main character, he is someone portrayed with weaknesses and almost too human to be involved in such a tale of fantasy. There was also a lack of humour to make the trip more fun to watch. Instead, we get to suffer and feel frustrated along the way together with Gawain as he encounters all the obstacles that get thrown along the way. This is after all a fairy tale and fairy tales are meant to be more fun than this.