The Northman

The Northman

Odd in that it feels like this should've been his sophomore slump whereas The Lighthouse feels like a sharp reaction to his prior modes of directing. There's a lot of competent film-making when taken on its own but unlike his other two there doesn't seem to be an overarching cohesion that answers the 'why' of his formal decisions: I'm often left absorbed with individual scenes but afterwards deliberating over their relation to the film overall, and usually can't come to any good reasoning. If I'm being especially uncharitable I'd even go as far as to say Eggers had ideas for cool scenes he wanted to film, but then had no idea how to properly thread them together; I notice this especially with how weak a lot of the transitory and establishing scenes are.

Perhaps some fumbling is expected given that his previous films were all generally set in one location and here the sprawling nature of the narrative gives trouble towards a similar level of integration, but (again, being uncharitable) this downright feels like a video-game at times in its undecided pacing which seems to prioritize giving us the 'fun bits' and literal in-world objectives over anything else despite how little sense they may make when given much thought. I wonder if he came up with both this and The Witch simultaneously and held off on shooting his macho bravura picture until he had enough funding, but by the time he did he had already moved past the work itself. Solid as a "boys and their toys" flick and as an Eggers apologist I can't say I didn't enjoy it overall, but imo a rather inconsequential work despite being his largest.

Still though, my favorite rendition of Hamlet so far so that's certainly worth something!

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