The Northman (2022)

The Northman (2022)

2022 R 137 Minutes

Drama | Action | Adventure | Fantasy

Prince Amleth is on the verge of becoming a man when his father is brutally murdered by his uncle, who kidnaps the boy's mother. Two decades later, Amleth is now a Viking who's on a mission to save...

Overall Rating

9 / 10
Verdict: Great

User Review

  • d_riptide


    8 / 10
    I haven’t been as interested in Viking/Norse lore as Greek mythology but it’s safe to say Robert Eggers “The Northman” was an interesting place for me to get started. Was it worth it?

    THAT…..and more.

    Despite well-documented attempts to water down his vision, Robert Egger’s signature handicraft for playing with the mood of the film still pays off, albeit not as well as his previous two films. Dismantling its modern context and retelling a Viking legend with such raw immediacy while keeping an astute eye on blurring lines between past and present, the way Eggers’ tactile vision renders the world and captures the mindset of those who inhabited the time period turns what could’ve been a regular dime-a-dozen Conan The Barbarian rip-off into a hypnotically, rhythmic orgy.

    Similar to his previous works, there’s an eerie authenticity going hand in hand with its nihilistic tone and surreal atmosphere, hand-built evocative set and production design and fluid cinematography, the latter of which treats its eerie long shots and exquisite comic book-like framing as reminiscence of a tapestry. So many still shots are equipped with exquisite natural lighting and the mythological elements were handled with great panache; the reliance on visible work of research and faithfulness to the customs and history makes a mood point for accuracy, fight and kill scenes are visceral, raw and brutal as advertised despite limited choreography, and it’s fairly straightforward from a structural standpoint and runtime but nothing derails the linear format.

    All of which proves how extensively deep Eggers goes into his research.

    Acting wise…..honestly, it’s fine. Most of the performances are packed with a lot of nuance; Skarsgard, Joy, Kidman and especially Dafoe displaying power, vigilance, deception and physicality. The rest are above average but don’t really resonate back to me for some reason.

    On the surface, nothing really stands out about the story at play: it’s a quest for revenge that eventually begins to show revenge's downsides: the violence, hate, and cyclical nature of it. All of Egger’s films have this conglomerate bleak historical realism with matter-of-fact fantasy and both The VVitch and The Lighthouse dealt with respective values, mythologies and ideals within their time period. This film deconstructs overbearing patriarchal values, masculine heroism, the folly of revenge and severance of fate, acting as an interrogation of sorts about the lyrically ugly nature of humans in the wild; a good chunk of these are strictly explained more than explored but these are broader emotions being played out in a not-so-prototypical hero’s journey. The sentiment may not match the expectations set with the inevitable climax but most of the characters so their part to support the collective consciousness behind selling that the journey matters more than the destination and the beauty of this films’ construction makes up for most of the shortcomings.

    The script is almost Shakespearean in many regards mixing transcendentalism, mythology and historical lore and most of the other elements of the film work to compliment and work off each other, buoying an already sturdy but smooth pacing that rewards its audience well when patience pays off.

    It is safe to say not everything worked out in the long run. Many bits of the dialogue feels a little cornball, visual effects aren’t always convincing and the editing comes off as begrudgingly rudimentary in comparison to everything else. Some people have said that despite the grander scale, the scope of the overarching themes and story doesn’t completely mesh well in execution. I can understand that, as compared to Egger’s previous two films, this is one such instance where bigger was not always better……but I’m inclined to say they cancel each other out.

    It isn’t as warping as The VVitch or intoxicating as The Lighthouse but even with a frustrating editing procedure and some nitpicks, the end result is still one of the better films to come out this year.