An Unexpected Convergence Of Genius: Our Review of ‘The Northman’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - April 22, 2022
An Unexpected Convergence Of Genius: Our Review of ‘The Northman’

Much like the pairing of chocolate and peanut butter, when two things unexpected work exceptionally well together, you just don’t argue.

You very likely wouldn’t have believed us had we told you, but The Northman which is in theatres now is actually the genius of writer/director Robert Eggers as he’s made his most stunning, his most brutal and quite possibly his most accessible film today.  Imagine if you will that Terrance Malick has made his own version of Conan The Barbarian.

From visionary director Robert Eggers comes The Northman, an action-filled epic that follows a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father’s murder. With an all-star cast that includes Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, and Willem Dafoe.

It’s a simple story, but let’s be honest the best one’s usually are as The Northman hooks you in with sweeping brutality and doesn’t let you go as we get quickly invested in this story of revenge.

You don’t often run into a film like this that is so epic in scale and scope but still brings the sensibilities of vibe of an indie production but there it is.

Eggers drops us into this brutal yet intimate world with great knowledge and understanding of the ride that he is about to take us.  Filled with commentary on the taste of masculinity and it’s in inherent toxicity this all feels like Shakespeare in many ways, but unabashed soaked in blood, violence and just the right amount of sex.  It manages to strike the balance between nihilistic reality and fantastical mysticism with a sense of purpose that is rarely seen in a story of this nature.  Eggers wants to enrapture us in the human drama but repel us with the baseness of the human condition all at the same time and it is simply enthralling to watch.

Alexander Skarsgård is more then up for the challenge here in the title role as he gives a brooding character driven performance while his muscles ripple and glow from the sweat, the dirt and the blood that he has to spill in order to fulfill his goal.  He brings genuine nuance to the brutal strongman on his quest for revenge.

Anna Taylor Joy probably has the most work opposite him as Olga of the Birch Forest his love interest and ally in his quest for revenge while the consistently underrated Claes Bang and Nicole Kidman get to chew the scenery with gleeful abandon.  Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and believe it or not Bjork, all do fine work in taking us somewhere that while somewhat familiar is always exciting and engaging from minute one when the film starts.

To put it simply, we can’t deny that The Northman is a fairly straight forward story from top to bottom, but it is so masterfully executed with visual abandonment and emotional resonance that it will be more than a little hard to look away and it’s easily the most accessible thing he’s ever done, which isn’t a bad thing.

This film is the perfect encapsulation of the human condition, it’s ugly, it’s beautiful, it’s tender, it’s brutal and no matter how much you try and convince yourself otherwise, you simply can’t look away from it because we recognize it in ourselves every day.

That’s where this film’s power lies, it’s honest about who and why we are as a species.

  • Release Date: 4/22/2022
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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