#REVIEW: “THE NORTHMAN”
Review by Amanda Gilmore
Writer-Director Robert Eggers’ latest has a formidable Alexander Skarsgård on a bloody quest for revenge.
As a child, Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak) watched his father King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke) be brutally murdered by his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang) and his mother Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) being kidnapped. With Fjölnir’s men hunting the young Prince he had no choice but to flee, vowing to avenge his father’s death. Now two decades later, Amleth (Skarsgård) is a Viking who raids Slavic villages. However, his vengeful quest gets put in motion when he meets a Seeress (Björk) who reminds him of his vow.
The Northman is an audacious Film that’s a mix of Viking tale and Norse Mythology. It might be Eggers’ most accessible film to date being that it’s a straightforward revenge tale. However, he’s kept the stunning visual aesthetic he’s become known for, making this tale fresh and utterly cinematic. Additionally, the North Mythology makes this Film more than just a revenge tale. It brings an added theme of fate. Amleth’s fate is set out for him through a ritual he did as a young boy with his father. When Amleth is visited by the Seeress, he accepts his fate the moment he begins his quest.
Eggers has spoken about wanting this Film to be an authentic Viking story. In doing so, The Northman is filled with brutal, bloody scenes that make for an intense viewing experience. As Amleth invades a Slavic village, we watch as a gruesome battle takes place while women, and some men, get taken as slaves. Here, we see the savageness Amleth is capable of. It’s safe to say that The Northman shows us Skarsgård as we’ve never seen him before. He’s cast perfectly and gives a gripping performance as the rage-filled Viking. His physical transformation is more than just size. As Skarsgård walks, his back is hunched over, physically showing Amleth’s hunt for revenge and the weight of the vow on his shoulders.
Eggers and Co-Writer Sjón give Amleth dimension through his relationship with the captured Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy). They come together in their quest for revenge and freedom. Olga’s revenge stems from being forced into slavery. Taylor-Joy plays the compassionate, one-with-the-earth Olga with fire that commands our attention. Her relationship with Amleth shows us another side of the savage Prince, such as his rule to never hurt women and children. However, this rule gets tested when he becomes reunited with his mother. With minimal scenes, Kidman gives a daring performance and relishes in the mystery of her character.
Overall, The Northman is another bold film to add to Eggers’ impressive resume. It has an exceptional Ensemble Cast and tells a cautionary tale of how revenge can consume and change a person if they allow it.
Universal Pictures Canada release THE NORTHMAN in cinemas on Friday, April 22, 2022.