The Northman

The Northman ★★★

You can feel the constraints here of someone like Eggers having to work within a studio system on a studio budget. So much being held back in terms of exploring the brutal and the mystical within this complicated and contradictory culture which seems like where his real interests lie, not this standard revenge narrative that shackles so much of the movie. His direction however, is so, so beautiful and on a design level alone, the attention to the tiniest of details is astounding. If anything, every little bit of painstaking research is up there on the screen, and the action sequences Eggers sets within them are filmed with a real elegance without ever sacrificing visceral impact. I could talk about the technicals of this thing all day, it’s really in a class of it’s own in terms of total immersion of a historical world, but when it comes down to it, unfortunately, I just found this story uninteresting. Each plot beat feels as if it’s being checked off a list, because it has to happen, and in the end it only takes away from the brutally textured world Eggers has recreated. Even a sort of late in the game revelation that someone can justify their actions if it fits within their worldview while adding some much needed complexity just doesn’t quite do enough. At least not for me. Would love to rewatch this at some point, at least to just soak in all the weird details again, but I can’t deny I found this slightly disappointing.

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