Hmel’s review published on Letterboxd:
I was certainly excited for Eggers third feature after creating such memorable experiences with his first two but, aside from expecting a technically beautiful film, was a little worried that this simple and over told plot would not be able to hold my attention. This reservation was quickly assuaged as I was immediately transported over a thousand years into the past both visually and mentally, gaining such vivid impressions amongst all the muted greys and dreary landscapes.
First and foremost this film was visually stunning and created such an easily immersive atmosphere, utilizing both the impressively detailed period sets and gorgeous natural landscapes, to hold me in an almost trance like state for long stretches of time. While the Northman definitely offers more plot-wise, this film was reminiscent of another I love, Innaritu's The Revenant, which also told a fairly straight forward story with the aid of eyepoppingly beautiful cinematography.
Eggers really takes this film to the next level for me though by including the spiritual, or more mystical, aspects of these ancient viking cultures. These belief systems are presented in such a creative manner, helping to drive the narrative, while still keeping them in the realm of the unexplainable, and never allowing any spiritual elements to offer concrete evidence or gain an unassailable foothold. This way the film always still felt like a historical epic and firmly "real", never venturing into fantasy, while still giving audiences a well researched picture of the other worldly elements that played such a large role in these people's lives while here.
Anya Taylor-Joy stood out most to me among this high caliber cast and I hope to see her create more success with Eggers in future projects. The acting and score were solid all around as well, and usually needs to be, in addition to a well honed script and detailed cinematography, in order to create the kind of fully immersive experience that Eggers pulls off here. 8.5/10
*2022 Theater #14
2022 Theater boxd.it/eWHo4