I’m a big fan of David Lowery, and I’ve recently realized I don’t know exactly why. I still haven’t seen Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. I thought Pete’s Dragon was all right for what it was, though I’ve heard other people refer to it as “abysmal”. I appreciated what he tried to do with A Ghost Story but was bored while watching it (Rooney Mara eating a pie for 15 minutes = ‘filmmaking’). The Old Man and the Gun was a tight, practical little flick. I assume Peter Pan & Wendy will be a good Disney remake and possibly his breakout film where a lot of normies will memorize his name.
But for now, I don’t really know why I feel so loyal to his brand. I think I might be looking at him more for what I want him to be and what I can see in his potential — at his apex he’s got Spielberg’s wonder with Fincher’s grounded darkness. I love his palette. I like his range. I think he’s capable of doing some truly amazing filmmaking in the next twenty years.
The bottom line is, I wanted to like this movie. And I’m not sure I did.
Full disclosure, I am not a sophisticated man. I’m fully aware that seven hundred year old chivalric poetry doesn’t fit my modern tastes, which are used to focus-grouped, plot-point-hitting, economically-calculated cinematic products. But something doesn’t hit here. Often, this film feels like a bunch of scenes cut out from a better, more epic fantasy or tv series and then shown in order. It feels disjointed, like a student film where everything but the plot was done by professionals. Even at the end, I felt kind of like, “What?” And I was ready for the movie to be done well before that.
It’s weird. Dev Patel is solidly good but never gets any better than that. Ralph Ineson is the best as title character and I wish he was in this film more. Sean Harris and Kate Dickie are enjoyable as gritty, realistic Arthur and Genuivere. Barry Keoghan does another narrow-eyed take on another evil scamp. Joel Edgerton plays Joel Edgerton. Alicia Vikander is here in two separate roles, neither of which do her justice. No one ever really rises to their potential, with the possible exception of Ineson, who isn’t used enough.
There are lots of cool visuals, but, like the performances, nothing ever really takes off. And this is unfortunately one of those cases where the best shots are from the trailer — those giants striding through the fog, the talking fox, the Green Knight himself. In that, I’m sorry to say the…