In a nutshell: Rams is a beautifully crafted, deceptively simple and ultimately moving story of two estranged brothers who farm sheep in a remote Icelandic community.
Rams features: Charlotte Boving, Gudrun Sigurbjornsdottir, Jon Benonysson, Jorundur Ragnarsson, Porleifur Einarsson, Sigurdur Sigurjonsson, Sveinn Olafur Gunnarsson, Theodor Juliusson
Writer/Director: Grímur Hákonarson
As might be anticipated, life moves along languidly in the remote Icelandic sheep farming valley community in which Rams is set, but that’s about the only predictable aspect of this beautifully crafted film. Appropriately slow-paced, it is never less than absorbing.
The bleak, otherworldly landscape lends a unique and imposing stage to a drama of building intensity involving two solitary sheep-farmer brothers, Gummi and Kiddi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíusson respectively), who live within shouting distance of each other on adjoining farming lots, but have not spoken for decades.
Whenever communication is essential, a rolled-up message is shoved in the mouth of an eager (and irresistibly endearing) sheepdog well used to his role as a conduit. Kiddi, who likes to hit the bottle, occasionally expresses himself by firing a few shots through his bro’s window.
When a sheep disease surfaces and the authorities order that the valley’s herds be slaughtered to contain it, the brothers are forced to join forces to save their precious breeding stock, which has unique ancestral lineage going back generations. Thus begins a slow road back to sibling unity.
Pieces like this that give a glimpse into a land and community most of us are not likely to experience first-hand are invaluable reminders of the glorious diversity of life, and of the sameness – the humanity – that binds all communities everywhere, no matter how remote or exotic. Gummi, Kiddi and co are small players leading small lives, but there are all sorts of complications swirling beneath their deceptively simple story and the human stakes are high.
The film is wonderfully performed and managed, and set amidst a stunning Nordic landscape. There are some wryly comic moments, but like the weather, the narrative is changeable, shifting gears and culminating in an unforgettable and moving primal image that a week later is still haunting me.
Movie website: http://cohenmedia.net/films/rams
2015-16 Lotterywest Perth Film Festival season dates:
Somerville: 14-20 March, 7.30pm
Joondalup Pines: 22-27 March, 7.30pm
For other Boomtown Rap movie reviews, see Movie Review Archives