The Northman

The Northman ★★★

After seeing some movies, it leaves you with adrenaline from filmmaking nerve and in a haze of wanting to validate the experience you’ve just witnessed. I left The Northman with that feeling. I’ve endured a brutal and entertaining experience, but I'm unaware if I’ve experienced a great film. Whatever that means. I just didn’t feel much.
I came into The Northman with high expectations because I loved Robert Eggers’ first two films, The Witch and The Lighthouse, like a majority of the people on this site. (As a side note, can we call this "The" trilogy? I wanna see a different side of Eggers in terms of technical language and filmmaking style while keeping his recurring themes and ideas.) I’m far from saying The Northman was disappointing, yet it does leave me wanting the exciting director to exceed the great foundation of ideas built in The Northman and push it into something brilliant or unexpected. I do enjoy the straightforwardness in relation to being based on a foregone tale, but I still wanted Egger’s voice to be transcended. I see the wheel processing inside the director’s head while watching. Technical ambition and execution are solid, but they left me more appreciative than in love with what it’s saying.
No one’s performance is lacking here. Alexander Skarsgård is incredibly jacked and brings character to a stone cold character. Nicole Kidman’s character must sacrifice to the Norse "snatched face" deity. The character is compelling, then doesn’t go anywhere. Anya Taylor-Joy is a pagan princess with some of my favorite shots. (the crown of flowers and manicly cursing the audience) The character meh. I’m happy to see the mythical Bjork on my screen again. Willem Dafoe‘s dick.
My head rockets with every shot being something no one is doing. My head explodes at the pure artistry and Eggers’ fascination, but my heart tells me the storytelling and filmmaking could’ve gone somewhere different and more interesting. I like that its material isn’t dumbed down and has true passion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s weird and artsy, but didn’t challenge me or take me to the time as much as that was the film’s purpose. Maybe the studio wanted its kaka (the old Norse word that "cake" is derived from) and eat it too.
I don’t know much about Vikings, but the movie seems to have many accurate details that I want to see more of in movies. Really good, not great. This is the type of movie built from love and one a director has to get out of their system. It still works and I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

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