The Northman

The Northman ★★

Revenge is an uncomplicated action. It lacks depth and ambiguity. It has a straightforwardness that can be pleasurable in a base kind of way.

When I heard Eggers was making a Viking revenge movie I imagined he was taking a turn towards more mainstream storytelling; more traditional fare. How wrong I was.

Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge admirer of his work, but there’s a self-consciousness to The Witch and The Lighthouse that feel like the work of a young man trying to be acknowledged by screaming at the top of his lungs: “This is my work. This is me. Admire it, and by extension admire me.”

I’d hoped by his third film Eggers would’ve felt more secure in his voice as a filmmaker. Instead what we got was a simple story told in an exaggerated way.

The runtime was unnecessarily excessive. On multiple occasions our Wolfen Avenger had revenge in his grasp only to monologue about how he would exact his vengeance at some later point in time. The extra time the delayed vengeance afforded our protagonist (and director) was filled with odd mysticism and repetitious displays of Nordic customs. It felt like Eggers had read some interesting tidbits about Viking culture that he felt compelled to force into his simple story; as if doing so would infuse his film with a greater degree of authenticity, or maybe a deeper symbolism.

I don’t really know what Eggers was hoping to achieve, and to be honest, I don’t think he did either.

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