A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Grímur Hákonarson
Written By: Grímur Hákonarson
Produced By: Grímar Jónsson
Starring: Theódór Júlíusson, Sigurður Sigurjónsson
Running Time: 93 Minutes
In what would otherwise appear to be a cooky comedy about isolated Icelandic escapades, Grímur Hákonarson’s Rams is a homegrown tale of family that brilliantly balances deadpan humour with heartbreaking poignancy.
Set against the sweeping landscapes of remote Iceland that rapidly change with the seasons, in turn providing a seismic shift in not just climate but tone as well, Rams excellently blends humour, sadness and even tension into it’s self-contained narrative.
The title may be somewhat misleading, given it’s a film that doesn’t put the horned, woolly creatures at the forefront of it’s narrative, but rather uses them as the bridge between two brothers, estranged for forty years who just so happen to be next door neighbours.
Rams is ultimately a tale of family and tradition and what occurs when longstanding habits or streaks are broken. Like mending a split rubber band, certain tasks highlighted in the film are highly difficult to completely repair, and although things won’t quite be the same, it’s still possible to salvage something rather special.
Siblings Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) are prize winning sheep farmers who separately carry on the legacy of their family across the road from one another.
Living alone and surlily, the brothers create a begrudging symbiosis that is carrying on purely through the love of their ancestry and the animals they care for.
The rams provide the lion’s share of the humour within the opening of the film, establishing their significance in the minuscule and remote community. So when a suspected plague of the fatal, incurable scrapie swarms through the flocks, Gummi, Kiddi and the townsfolk alike face a truly dire and heartbreaking period.
A film such as this simply wouldn’t work without its human elements that provide incentive, connection and history to the landscape and the creatures themselves. The sibling rivalry is masterfully introduced within the first minute of the film and continues to be reiterated through minimal dialogue that is merely peppered throughout the picture.
It’s not only the brothers who don’t speak, their interactions with the townsfolk are brief at best, providing an insight into the slightly oddball character of the town and its civilians.
Grímur Hákonarson’s latest outing is daring in its tonal undertaking, but triumphant in its overall execution. Through a wonderfully paced script that has its fair share of twists and turns and a masterful leading sibling dichotomy, Rams pinpoints a fine balance in energy, pathos and temperament, all before reminding the audience exactly what it’s fundamentally about; two brothers being forced to put their petty differences aside in light of a terrible crisis.