Andrei Girard’s review published on Letterboxd:
This was one of my most anticipated films of the year, therefore, I'm glad I finally had the chance to watch it on the big screen and, it was a mind-blowing cinematic experience. I went to watch it with my girlfriend and, she was absolutely stunned by it; a visual marvel and a thrilling epic journey through and through. It is certainly awe-inspiring in regard to the filmmaking qualities, the craftsmanship and the ambition of the project and, another testament to Robert Eggers' immense talent as a filmmaker and, another artistic triumph from his behalf.
As in his previous two films, to make this possible, Eggers and his team obviously had to do a lot of research to be able to craft this Viking world with historical accuracy and depict it in the most carefully detailed way possible. The construction of this dreary, wild, turbulent and imposing world, is extremely impressive. And, that's something I've always admired him for, because he really takes his time and does the job to make the experience feel authentic and transport you to a specific time and place, whilst also incorporating these supernatural/mythological elements that make everything more interesting and mystical. It doesn't waste time on explaining anything, which is another aspect I really appreciate, because it adds so much value to the overall experience and makes it feel more realistic, that's why some elements of the film may seem a bit confusing or difficult to follow at times for some people, but, it's all part of it, and, I think if I don't understand something about the mythology or whatever, I can always look it up. It's better this way than having everything explained, which always feels awkward and spurious.
This film is mostly all about its presentation; the cinematography, the camerawork, the sound design, the score, the direction, the production design and the performances are all unquestionably impeccable. The action scenes are so intense and incredibly well-choreographed to the point that they don't feel choreographed and, it's actually impressive that some of these scenes were done in one take, with the camera moving along with them and capturing all the brutality being displayed. There are plenty of truly breathtaking shots, and, the use of lightning in some scenes is just perfect. Linda Muir outdid herself with those mesmerising costumes she designed for the film, especially the Valkyrie's costume, which is absolutely stunning and that take with the Valkyrie screaming into the camera and riding a flying white horse towards a striking white light, left me astounded. This film isn't just a visual delight, but, it also is sonically sublime; the sounds and music are so heavy and gritty, complimenting the dark themes, the aesthetics and the bleak visuals.
Regarding the performances, they all are fantastic; Alexander Skarsgård certainly is the standout, because it's a very demanding and physical performance and, he absolutely nails it, showing such a level of commitment and, basically turning himself into a savage, bloodthirsty beast in search of vengeance. Nicole Kidman is another highlight in the cast, she has a very interesting scene with Skarsgård, that blew me away. Björk is splendid as the Seeress, she nails that role and, it's such a shame we didn't get to see more of her, I thought she was going to appear in that final scene, that would've been awesome, but, unfortunately, she did not. Of course, the rest of the cast is excellent as well; Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Ethan Hawke and Claes Bang.
The Northman is based on the Scandinavian legend of Amleth, which was the direct inspiration for Shakespeare's Hamlet, therefore, it's a somewhat familiar story that has been adapted to film many times before, but, as I said, this one is all about its unique presentation that sets it apart. This is a BRUTAL revenge story, however, I personally did find the storyline a bit thin, the characters definitely needed more space to be properly developed and, some themes could've been explored further. As much as I admire the artistry, the craft and the technical elements of the film, I felt that there was something missing, it lacks some substance and that emotional connection I needed to care about these characters and their story.
Björk, Willem Dafoe and Ethan Hawke are so underutilised here, they're barely in the film. I felt robbed because I really wanted to see more of them, the film NEEDED more of them. The killing of the father takes place within the first ten minutes of the film, which felt so abrupt, because you never get to see almost any of this father-son or father-mother relationship needed for me to understand some of the story choices that take place after, as well as the characters' development in the story. The romance between Amleth and Olga isn't that compelling, either.
I enjoyed the overall experience, but, it certainly feels a bit lacking, for that reason, I don't feel fully satisfied with this film, which hurts me in the heart, because I was ready to give this at least a 9/10.
All in all, this is a film made for the big screen and, it's a fascinating experience you don't want to miss. If you have the chance, PLEASE GO WATCH IT AT THE CINEMA as soon as you can.
Sidenote: Sorry for not being really active lately, I've been very busy these days and haven't had much time to write reviews or watch movies in general.
🔜 We're All Going to the World's Fair (2021)
🔜 The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)