The Northman

The Northman ★★★

From the effectively contained worlds of The Witch and The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers goes for the bigger, higher ground: a grandiose, epic Viking film that adapts the legend of Amleth in The Northman. The films of Eggers regardless of any themes conjure a visceral attitude within them, and certainly The Northman proves to be his most visceral, attention-grabbing and his most visually-striking film. Though expansive in its craftsmanship, The Northman lacks the evocative insight propelled by his last two films. The stakes are high, but to get there seems to be inconsequential and shallow.

Alexander Skarsgard leads the eclectic, stunning ensemble with a lead performance that somehow loses cool as the movie progresses. Skarsgard is a terrific character actor (as seen in HBO’s Big Little Lies but I don’t think he has the enduring charisma to keep us watching. Anya Taylor-Joy is his leading lady, but her distinctive presence becomes tedious. Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Claes Bang gave note-worthy supporting roles, and so is the wonderful Bjork (hugely missed) in a very impactful cameo. Nicole Kidman is great as ever, and I always love when she goes unhinged in the movies.

Overall, there’s beauty to the ruggedness and expansive scope of The Northman. And despite missing that menacing mystery and deep evocative restraint that his first two films had, there’s certainly an ambition and talent on display that is undeniable. But good, experimental stuff here, Robert!

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