A visually poetic film with a daring philosophy, The Other Lamb bleeds with female defiance. Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaids Tale, a cult of brainwashed females follows the lead of their beloved “Shepherd” to extreme ends. The colour co-ordinated costumes, emphasis on fertility and oppressive patriarchy all echo Atwood’s revolutionary story, now reduced to a small community living in the woods.
That’s not to say The Other Lamb lacks originality. Far from it. Viewers are immediately encapsulated by director Malgorzata Szumowska’s strange world, primarily through the landscape and cinematography. Contra zooms, side-ways shots and vertically growing trees all aid in distorting the cults bizarre, twisted world. Szumowska achieves acute control over every aspect of her film, letting the camera linger on with satisfying symmetry.
Though a little pretentious at times, The Other Lamb evokes an arthouse feel similar to the work of Yorgos Lanthimos. Littered with Biblical symbology, The Other Lamb maintains a heavy focus on themes of purity, penance and the journey to “Eden”. Indeed, the titles imagery of a “Lamb” indicates the films religious undercurrents. By layering these symbolic ideas, Szumowska is able to reach a depth beyond simple storytelling, crafting the film with precision and care.
Raffey Cassidy (playing the rebellious protagonist Selah) delivers an extraordinary performance that is well beyond her years. Michiel Huisman and Denise Gough also star, pulling off admirable performances with very little dialogue.
The Other Lamb relies more on silent tension that reels of exposition to tell its perverted story. The characters pain is prolonged through a slow pace and abundance of long shots. Despite its polished exterior, The Other Lamb boils with rage beneath the surface. A rage many women will relate to…even if not quite to the same extent.