The Northman

The Northman ★★★★½

Had a long, busy day yesterday that culminated in a showing of The Northman, which I've been highly anticipating after loving both of Eggers' previous films to death. And I loved this one too, though I can say pretty plainly that it is my least favorite of the three easily.

I don't especially have much in the way of negatives to say about the film; it looks stunning, the score rocks, it's brutal and visceral and dense with lore, history, and magic. The cast are all superb. I had a great time. But it's a familiar story, adapted numerous times (thought more often in the Hamlet direction), and at the end of it all it didn't feel like there was much to discuss with my co-watchers.

I think the scale of it loses something intimate that has been special about Eggers' previous films, as well as being the most straightforward and mainstream accessible of his work so far. There is far less of the allegorical or ambiguous; what you see is what you get. I've heard through articles and interviews that Eggers has been open about studio meddling making this difficult and that he likely would rather not have to go through that again, even if it means not making a film of this size again either. That is a bit of a bummer, though not surprising in the slightest. Even so, there is plenty of weird and wild stuff to see here; it's as exciting and meticulously crafted as one would expect. It just lacked a bit of surprise and suspense in the way that would keep me thinking and talking about, to edge it into "perfect" territory for me personally.

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