The Northman

The Northman ★★★★

“A prince destined for valor.”

I gotta be honest, I’m fully shocked by The Northman’s anemic U.S. box office opening weekend. I thought for sure the pairing of Eggers, Skarsgård and vikings would get the general public out to see it.

I loved The Witch, I felt 50/50 about The Lighthouse, was intrigued by this project, but it was game over once I saw Nicole Kidman in the trailer (which I saw a dozen times at my local Alamo in the lead up to its release).

The first thing that must be said is that Robert Eggers builds and visualizes such immersive cinematic worlds. The Northman is by far his most expansive in terms of number of settings, but that exacting eye for detail is heeded to each place. I love the production elements of an Eggers film, you can always count on his collaborators to piece together a stunning set and compelling costumes. It really is to be commended.

It was lovely to see Alexander Skarsgård have the opportunity to take center stage in a big budget film project. He’s really enjoyed a strong post-Big Little Lies moment in the industry. As Amleth, he’s carnal, he’s athletic, he’s immensely sexy. He does the job.

Kidman is exquisite. As a longtime admirer of hers, it still feels bold and brave when she takes on projects and roles like this, but the art benefits time and time again by her decisions to do so. She is the mother of the monologue of our time.

Anya Taylor-Joy is one of those actors who is just always so interesting to watch. I always want to see what her next move is, there’s something curiously enigmatic about her, I can’t quite put it into words.  

The supporting cast are all stellar. Claes Bang and Gustav Lindh make especially terrific antagonists.

I do think the accent work was tough, and most everyone who had enough dialogue to, got a little tripped up by the language along the way.

I’ve seen some compare the story as akin to Hamlet. Which I see. The trouble is, I really like a lot of Shakespeare, so that comparison only firms up The Northman’s narrative for me.

Overall, it is perhaps not as unique or original as we’ve seen from Eggers’ previous two feature films, but it was convincing enough for this viewer. Plus, the film itself may very well be a technical masterpiece.

I will be revisiting.

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