Film Review – The Northman

The Northman (MA)

Directed by: Robert Eggers

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

A ferocious, barbaric Vikings story on an acid trip with an all star cats proves to be a curious concoction in the hands of fascinating film maker Robert Eggers.

When young Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak) witnesses his uncle Fjolnir the Brotherless (Claes Bang) kill his father King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke), claim his mother Queen Gudrun (Nicole Kidman) and terrorise their village, he escapes and vows vengeance.

Years later, after being raised by Vikings, adult Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard) finds his chance to kill his uncle, but he must pass as a slave to get close to him – which is how he meets and falls in love with Olga of the Birch Forest (Anya Taylor-Joy).

This bloody, gory and brutal drama has Eggers’ fingerprints all over it – his surreal, loopy elements sure to baffle mainstream audiences.It is a little cheeky of him to lure a wider audience with this cast and promise of such such savagery then hit them with the hallucinogenic sequences and other various tricks up his sleeve that are more at home in an art house cinema.

But it is this interesting mix of flavours that keeps one intrigued even when the pacing occasionally feels sluggish and the development of the lead character barely goes beyond “angry, determined” and “in love”.

Some characters with little dialogue can leave a mark when in the right hands – Skarsgard doesn’t quite have the gravitas here to take focus from his impressive abs.

Visually, this is a draw dropping film, with stunning scenery often framing the graphic and bloodthirsty action that is part of the exploration of the animal savagery of humans – Eggers finds the beauty among the ugly for some welcome balance.

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