God, Anya Taylor-Joy really is in every fuckin’ movie right now, isn’t she? I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I just think it’s worth noting that she’s literally everywhere in this day and age. In fact, there are a lot of familiar faces in this one, but one you probably won’t be expecting is that of Icelandic pop royalty, Björk. Yes, that’s her in the first image below. And weirdly, she’s actually really good! Bizarre casting, but it works so well.
But anyway, let’s put Icelandic singers to one side for a hot second to actually break down The Northman, shall we? Firstly, this is unmistakably a Robert Eggers movie. Period piece? Check. Ye Olde World-y language choices? Check. Artsy, panoramic imagery? Check. The plot? A complex revenge story involving fictional Scandinavian royalty in which Prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) seeks to murder his own Uncle. That’s some intense shit right there. As I said, unmistakably Eggers.
The Northman seemed to have a lot of hype at the time of release that quickly dwindled a few weeks later to the point at which no one was talking about it anymore. For me? I’m obsessed with Prince Amleth now. Despite this movie not being perfect, that character is absolutely flawless. A brilliant piece of character creation. I love him.
Unlike one of Robert Eggers’ previous movies The Witch, I really got invested in The Northman. Though so many people loved that movie, I spent the entire runtime confused and unsure why so many looked at it so fondly. With this though, the subject matter and the pure, savage revenge plot pulled me in completely. It should be stated that it’s not always 1000% gripping and does move a little slowly here and there, but at least this one gives you someone to root for in a convincing way.
The most impressive aspects of this film are indisputably the technical achievements it amounted to. Everything from the beautiful landscapes and cinematography to the make up and costumes were so impressive, with each facet working together perfectly to really put Eggers’ vision out there for all to see. Unfortunately there were moments where the lighting was so sparse that it made it hard to see, but for the most part, there was a lot of artistry on display here.
Sadly there were plot points that did feel predictable (Nicole Kidman’s entire story arc, for instance, was way too obvious from the very start), but there were moments of really vivid imagery that made the watch worth it. Pulling everything together nicely is an almost perfect leading performance by Alexander Skarsgård, who is actually rather underrated in every role he takes on. But this one? I mentioned how much I love Amleth now, right? That is absolutely down to the way in which Skarsgård plays him.
Would I watch it again? Probably not. But if nothing else, The Northman is a brilliant showcase of what this director can do and furthers the argument that he is one to watch over the next few decades.
The Northman is currently available to stream on Sky Cinema and Now TV in the UK.
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