Film Review: Rams

Directed by Grímur Hákonarson

Rams is a cocktail of drama, deadpan humour and true Scandinavian style. A story of feuding brothers, sheep and widespread disease, Director Grímur Hákonarson has provided the perfect set up for a comic yet tragic film. It begins as a dry comedy about rural life but deepens into a beautiful and moving tale of family, community and legacy.

The story is primarily told through the eyes of middle-aged sheep farmer Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) who has not spoken to his hard-drinking brother Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) in 40 years despite living on adjacent farms a few metres from one another—Kiddi’s dog acts as a courier between the two by delivering handwritten notes. When an outbreak of scrapie, the ovine equivalent of Mad Cow Disease, threatens the slaughter of the entire valley’s flock, the brothers are finally forced to deal with their strained relationship in order to save their ancient breed and unique lifestyle.

With little dialogue, Sigurður and Theodór manage to captivate audiences with their onscreen presence. But it was the film’s outstanding cinematography that really stole the show; shot in Iceland’s striking countryside, it’s hard not to see why. However it wasn’t just the landscape that led the cinematography to be one of the greater aspects of the film. The attention to detail from every hint of emotion right down to creases on the aging characters’ faces undoubtedly added to the film’s success.

Although a struggle to digest at times, Rams proves itself as a surprisingly bittersweet drama. The slow build and development of the plot and characters leaves you with a subconscious affection for the brothers making the film’s final scene all the more powerful. An unexpected delight.

Words by Bridget Kerry

See Rams at Palace Nova Cinemas from Thursday  7 April.

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