The Northman

The Northman ★★★½

For starters, let’s just say Vikings aren’t necessarily my cup of tea. It was the name Robert Eggers that drew my interest to this $90M Shakespearean viking epic. It’s not quite the large bloody-epic revenge film we were promised, and a lot more tame than I was expecting. Yes, "The Northman" is brutal, well performed, and visually beautiful – but it feels like it could have been so much more. Being a fan of Eggers previous two efforts, I feel this was nowhere near as weird or brutal as I was expecting it to be. It was played way too safe. There are glimpses of Eggers throughout the film, but the script itself doesn’t hold the same type of depth as "The Lighthouse" or "The VVitch." So despite the dream-like sequences, Valkyrie riding horses into the sky, or the weird close up sequences, it all felt a lot more conventional than I was hoping for. The direction is strong, but the script overall feels weak, and the journey overall is quite underwhelming.

It’s visually luscious, the costumes are great, and the performances are all spectacular. It’s beautifully shot – I loved the use of silhouettes, all the night shots in the fog, the use of fire and starry skies. A lot of excellent long takes, and a lot of the wide shots could be framed. It all around looks great, and I can’t emphasize this enough. The story itself, and how distant I felt from Amleth throughout the film just made it hard for me to fully engross myself into this world. Maybe Eggers wanted us to be a distant spectator, but in my opinion, it doesn’t really work well here. I never felt emotionally engaged, so in the end I didn’t really care what happened to Amleth. There’s these dream-like sequences written in and weird use of edits that I couldn’t help but to laugh at. If anything should have been cut from the film, it should have been these. On top of this, the script does hint at a number of themes, but then goes on to barely scratch the surface of any of them.

I can’t help but respect what Eggers was going for in this case, as a lot of it is awesome. It looks and feels great, and has that authentic feeling it needs, but I couldn’t help but to eventually grow – I hate to use this word – 'bored' by all of it. I am happy that so many others are loving this film though, and I urge everyone who hasn’t seen it to go and see it if you can! I think I just had the bar set far too high on this one and ended up let down, and sometimes that’s just how it goes.


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