shookone’s review published on Letterboxd:
Robert Eggers proper remake of Conan the Barbarian by the means of Shakespeare and Freud. exactly as freakish and wonderful as I have imagined it. a brutalist, muddy, unforgiving tour de force, raging with ultra-angry violence and sinister menace.
after Eggers let us bath in illustre viking, goth and occultism chic we slowly delve into the unstoppable spiral of anger and wrath - a very visceral depiction of fascism that is. hate bears fury bears barbarity - the burning of the village in the beginning of the second act is a clear bow to Klimovs ultimate horror scene in Come and See, having a strong impact here aswell. the ideals of the young king diminished in a raging environment, cutting the adolescence from idealistic revenge-seeking to omnidirectional infuriation.
luckily Eggers floats - another time after The Lighthouse - playfully into psychoanalytic spheres again. slight spoiler alert ahead now - don't read the rest of this paragraph if you're still planning to watch it for the first time. Nicole Kidman is a very fine meticulous face for the cold mother with a dead heart (that needs to get the sword by king oedipus of course). he himself is only the offspring of his father - another failure of human DNA - repeating his fathers sins. consequentially the hope offered - leaving the brutalist scenery with forest witch Anna Taylor-Joy (pretty much a paradisaical dream) - has to be denied in order to follow your destiny: carthasis through death.
on a sidenote: whoever says this isn't funny, and instead a perfect example of the ultra-seriousness of modern cinema has watched a different movie than me. the fact that Eggers let - sorry to say - actors rather belonging to the scrapped category (minus Taylor-Joy) speak those heavy lines in shoddy dialect is showing a quite smirky humor. this could be read as cynical, but then again the stunned severity of this monstrosity needs exactly this balance to not slay you entirely into unworthy pieces, you unholy pagan!