Arthouse over action in ‘The Green Knight’

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The weird and esoteric Oscar race kicked off this summer with “The Green Knight,” an artsy and poetic take on a classic King Arthur legend.

Don’t go into “The Green Knight” expecting a big sword and sorcery summer blockbuster. This is an arthouse film if there ever was one. It’s all about style, cinematography, metaphors and allegories. “The Green Knight” is a journey of the soul, not an historic epic about knights and round tables. So if you like that sort of movie, “The Green Knight” does a great job of it.

“The Green Knight” is still playing in some theaters.

The movie adapts an ancient Arthurian legend about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, from 14th-century England. In the movie, Gawain is the nephew of King Arthur and is looking to prove himself, to be worthy of knighthood. When a mysterious green knight arrives on Christmas Day with a strange challenge, Gawain steps up and takes the bait — with potentially dire consequences.

Does Gawain have what it takes to see this challenge through to the very end, no matter the cost? You’ll just have to watch the movie and find out.

It is worth repeating that this is not an action movie about the Knights of the Round Table. “The Green Knight” is a spooky, intimate, character-focused exploration of courage and other poetic feelings. And you’ve got to be ready for that kind of movie if you want to watch “The Green Knight”.

In that regard, it’s probably a great example of this type of arthouse movie. The characters are pretty clearly defined, the story is relatively easy to follow and the weird stuff is not so weird as to be impenetrable. I don’t credit myself with a lot of brains when it comes to piercing the subtext of a movie like this, but I think I kept a good handle on “The Green Knight”.

Actor Dev Patel does a great job as Gawain. He is charismatic, heroic, cowardly and all around a great fit for the role. He easily carries the audience through the film, through one wild encounter after another. Because that’s what the movie is in the end: one weird, wild experience after another that Gawain must overcome on his journey.

Whether or not you like “The Green Knight” will depend a lot on how much weirdness you can handle in a film. It’s one of those movies where you’re constantly wondering if everything you see on screen is legitimate or is perhaps the main character going insane? And if it’s the later, are you understanding what the insanity means? It’s a tough question to ponder.

“The Green Knight” is not for everybody. It is as arthouse as movies get, but it does a great job being that level of arthouse.

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