This is a quickie because I know I am not the audience for this violent revenge epic. It’s the latest from writer/director Robert Eggers who garnered high praise for his previous film The Lighthouse. Similar in tone, The Northman depends very heavily on atmosphere and creating an authentic time period rather than character or story. In a nod to Hamlet, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) sees his dear father King Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke) killed by his Uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang) and his mother Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) taken by him as his wife. He escapes vowing, “I will avenge you, Father. I will save you, Mother. I will kill you, Fjölnir.” And that’s just what he does for the next 137 minutes.
When the film begins he is just a boy, but after his escape from the clutches of his evil Uncle the film finds him grown and a member of a band of bloody-thirsty berserkers who pillage villages rounding up people to sell as slaves. When he hears that some of the slaves are going to his Uncle’s place, he joins them disguising himself as one of the captives. On the boat he meets Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy) a Slavic sorceress and his love interest. After arriving in his Uncle’s kingdom, he works as a slave while refining his plan to save his mother and avenge his father. And slowly but surely he succeeds in his quest (sort of — no spoilers).
This is definitely not a film for the squeamish. And it is very dark, both visually and psychologically. The actors are all fine, though the accents tended to bother me with everyone trying to come up with the right Viking feel. As I said, I’m not the audience for this film. It will probably appeal more to men, particularly those who like bloody action and vengeance stories. If that’s your cup of tea, be sure to see it on a big screen.
In theaters now.