Robert Eggers is back on the big screen Northerner, an epic historical drama that is his most ambitious and big-budget project yet. Career that started with low-budget horror films Witch and LighthouseEggers hit theaters with a good old-fashioned revenge thriller. The emphasis here is on the old-fashioned, as it takes us masterfully to 895 AD for a film about Prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), a Viking on a mission to kill his uncle who killed Amleth’s father and kidnapped his mother two decades earlier. .
This is Eggers’ triumphant attempt to tell a more mainstream narrative while maintaining his distinct style. Those who have seen Eggers’ previous work know that he is partial to graphic, surreal images carefully crafted to evoke as much emotion as possible. Eggers brings some of them to Northerner, giving its characters amazing visions that lead to a wonderfully unique cinematic experience. At the same time, it creates a revenge story that serves the characters very well. Amleth’s words: «I will avenge you, father. I will save you mom. I will kill you, Fjolnir,” echoes across the screen.
At its core, the story is traditional. Amleth’s journey is what originally inspired Tragedy of Hamlet, and the main characters’ names serve as anagrams. Eggers tells a very Shakespearean story, opening with a gripping prologue that introduces viewers to Amleth as a child. Oscar Novak does an incredible job in his scenes as the young Amleth, and he shares the screen well with Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, who do a great job with their short screen time. As they perform the spiritual ceremony on all fours, their dedication to the cause is admirable. They act like animals and sell a scene that could be lost without the right performers and direction.
What Eggers has mastered as a director takes his audience to a time very different from ours. As soon as his films begin, the total immersion begins as you enter an experience like no other. Craftsmanship and attention to detail in every detail Northerner stunning, with a believable, impeccable production design. While some films set in the past make the mistake of making everything seem polished and artificial, this film is rough, with dirty costumes in the sets that complement the film’s dark tone.
This is also Eggers’ first experience in large-scale action films. While the focus of the film is not on the action, it features some of the most gripping action scenes of the year. There are long shots with copious amounts of bloody, brutal violence that can be shocking. The barbarity of each frantic battle scene matches the ferocious nature of the Vikings and demonstrates Amleth’s strength as he sets about his plan of revenge. Skarsgard, who showed his physical strength in The Legend of Tarzanovershadows himself with his masterful stunts in this film.
When it comes to the film’s plot, the easiest thing to complain about is that it uses familiar ingredients. Amleth’s goal of revenge is arbitrary, but that’s perhaps the only aspect of the film available that isn’t interested in making things clear to 21st century audiences. The film is based on a classic legend and Eggers does a great job of bringing his artistic voice to life. The second act can slow down at times, but the superb cinematography and performance is very entertaining. Anya Taylor-Joy continues to outdo herself as an actress, and Nicole Kidman is phenomenal, as is Claes Bang as the film’s antagonist.
Eggers also knew the right moments to bring his characters into a dramatic direction, with a shocking revelation that pushes the protagonist into dark places. Northerner it is an exceptionally crafted film with unconventional visuals and a unique filmmaking voice. This film has graphic violence and dark moments, and is a story miraculously brought to life by a cinematic author.
As explained in ComingSoon’s review rules, a score of 7 is «Good». A successful entertainment that is worth a try, but it may not be to everyone’s taste.