Rams': Review

By Hunter, Allan | Screen International, May 15, 2015 | Go to article overview

Rams': Review


Hunter, Allan, Screen International


Dir/Scr. Grimur Hakonarson. Iceland/Denmark/Norway/Poland. 2015. 93mins

The reconciliation of long-estranged brothers is hard won and tenderly felt in Rams (Hrutar), an accomplished, original work from Summerland (2010) director Grimur Hakonarson. Filled with wintry melancholy and captivating charm, it is a smaller festival delight that should also have commercial legs. Recent tiles like Of Horses And Men and Life In A Fishbowl (not to mention the upcoming Tribeca winner Virgin Mountain) have shown that there is an appetite for Icelandic cinema and the humour and humanity in Rams should ensure that it reaches an international arthouse audience.

Hakonarson's background in documentaries is felt in a pitch perfect evocation of an isolated rural community largely populated by men in Santa Claus beards and baggy, well-worn woolly jumpers. Cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grovlen captures images of rugged, snow-covered landscapes and ferocious weather conditions to emphasise that this is no country for the fainthearted. It is a lonely life for the stoical Gummi (Sigurdur Sigurjonsson) even although his brother Kiddi (Theodor Juliusson) shares their family land and lives in a neighbouring farmhouse. The two men have not spoken in forty years and Gummi considers his flock of sheep more like family than his brother. Any communication between the two men takes the form of handwritten messages carried by trusty sheepdog Somi.

The shadow that Kiddi casts over Gummi's existence is economically conveyed during a ram judging contest. Gummi's evident delight at taking second place disappears when Kiddi is announced the winner by half a point. …

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