With a limited UK release in February this year, this little-known Icelandic tragicomedy about sheep is quirkily charming and heartbreaking in equal measure.
Rams (original title, Hrútar) opens with two brothers competing in a local ‘best ram’ contest. It’s a quietly hilarious set piece that perfectly sets the scene for the rest of the film; we see that sheep are a passion, an obsession for the characters, and that these two brothers are silently locked in a family feud. The two brothers in question, Gummi and Kiddi are neighbours in a secluded Icelandic valley, and haven’t spoken a word to each other in four decades. Rams asks whether this forty-year feud can be put aside to save their shared passion, the future and wellbeing of their flocks of sheep, who are being threatened by a rare disease.
Like all ‘Nordic Noir’, Rams maintains a dark tone throughout, sunlight and smiles are minimal, but this doesn’t stop writer and director Grímur Hákonarson’s quirky humour coming through. The oddball pair at the heart of the story are written, directed and acted with restrained perfection, their minimal dialogue is short-lived, but more often than not amusing.
Intertwined in this quirky story is beautiful cinematography, the film looks bleakly stunning, the brother’s derelict valley is shot wonderfully as it perfectly coincides with the brother’s equally bleak relationship.
Rams is probably more tragedy than comedy, it’s bleak Nordic undertone eventually shines through, but at the heart of this film is a story of reuniting brotherhood and the power of fraternity.
★★★1/2 |Josh Hall
Drama, World Cinema | Iceland, 2015 | Soda Pictures | 30th May 2016 (UK) | Dir. Grímur Hákonarson | Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Theodór Júlíusson, Charlotte Bøving, Jon Benonysson, Gunnar Jónsson | Buy: [DVD]