The Northman

The Northman ★★★½

You must choose between kindness for your kin, and hatred for your enemies.

Eggers' worst is still much better than a lot of directors' best.

Immersive, meticulously crafted and well performed but a bit slight on story. This movie, unlike The VVitch and The Lighthouse didn't feel as close to the characters and didn't feel like it explored them in depth. Unlike the previous movies which were character-driven this one is plot driven and unfortunately this plot is very familiar. But I did appreciate the ambiguity Eggers introduced in a lot of places - whether or not the slain king was noble or the mother needed saving - and the fact that pretty much everyone in this story deserved their own justice and vengeance.

Alexander Skarsgard did a great job leading the film, his mix of masculinity and sensitivity working very well here and instantly endearing the audience to the protagonist. Anya Taylor-Joy brought her usual radiating inner strength and charisma and Nicole Kidman reminded us why she is one of the most famous actresses out there - it was so much fun seeing her in a role like this and her character was definitely the most fascinating one, to the point that I kinda wish we saw things from her perspective.

I'm surprised to see so many people call this movie "conventional" - there are many bizarre sequences and you can instantly tell this is a movie from the same director who made The VVitch and The Lighthouse. I am shocked there weren't any walk outs - there are many world-building moments involving various rites, dream sequences and people acting feral with Willem Dafoe doing his usual freaky stuff. It's a marvelous thing to witness a director like Eggers get such a budget and get so weird with it, but while this movie is the most accessible out of the three he directed, it's definitely not accessible for general audience. You can really see that they spent serious money while making this movie - the costumes, production design, the locations. While I wasn't particularly wowed by the editing or cinematography the best thing here is definitely the score - absolutely epic and gorgeous.

Some sequences here reminded me of The Green Knight but unfortunately this did not do the movie any favors - last year's take on Arthurian legends had far more adventure in it, while The Northman feels like a slice of life which given the lacking depth of characters is detrimental to the film. Also in case of both of those movies - can the filmmakers please stop using CGI to create animals on screen? It's extremely noticeable and really takes you out of the movie.

While The Northman is flawed it definitely deserves being witnessed on the big screen. If we don't support movies like this, the only big budget films left will be major franchises where the director's individual identity gets lost every single time. And the ending alone is one of the best things you'll see in cinema this year.

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