A tale of two brothers butting heads; "Rams" is a film about more than just sheep
Set in a cloistered Icelandic farming community, Rams follows the story of two brothers dealing with a lethal disease within the valley’s flock. Director and writer Grímur Hákonarson presents us with a simple story on first glance, giving us an insight into a characterful community of sheep-lovers. In actuality, the film is about the relationships within this group who are thrust unwittingly into a David versus Goliath clash with the powers-that-be who want to shear them of their prized ram stock. Hákonarson prompts audiences to ask whether this common cause is enough to break the icy walls between neighbors and brothers Kimmi and Gummi who have been locked in a speechless stalemate for the past 40 years of their lives.
Sigurður Sigurjónsson does a great job as the solitary and melancholic protagonist Gummi, who takes the most joy in lovingly tending to his flock. In spite of his partially obscured, wooly face, Sigurjónsson delivers an earnest performance through forlorn eyes and his soft manner with his almost-familial herd. A lot can be said for the four-legged friends of the film, who are characters in their own right. From Kiddi’s vivacious sheep-dog companion to the rams themselves, the bleating and barking beasties are a bright speck against the bleakness.
Barrenness is a motif as the landscape mirrors the desolate relationship between the two brothers. Rams certainly paints an inhospitable portrait of the Nordic land, it is certainly not a film the Tourism board of Iceland would particularly want to parade as a showcase of the country. Nevertheless, the silence and scenery allow valuable time for introspection on the part of the audience. Like the rests in a bar of music necessitating the noise these silences are necessary in life, so long as they don’t overshadow the music.
I went into the film expecting a stoic, Icelandic comedy thanks to the theatrical trailer, but Rams proved to be a dry, glacial slog filled with pockets of surprisingly heartfelt and human warmth. The steadfast shepherds stole my heart in their telling of a very human story of reconciliation. The film is bleak at the best of times but that to me, is all part of the allure.
3/5 baad puns
Shake a hoof to see Rams before the end of its run on Sunday the 27th of March at Joondalup Pine