Rams ★★★★

TIFF15 Film #17

Reason for pick – Winner of Cannes Un Certain Regard

Rams is a wonderfully touching and sometimes darkly, dry as bone, funny study of family, heritage, community, and the special bond that sheep farmers have with their flock.

Islandic director Grímur Hákonarson is never hurried in laying out the story, letting each scene play out with natural ease, sometimes with hilarious results. Cinematographer Sturla Brandth contrasts the stark beauty of the Icelandic countryside with the intimate glow of the modest farm houses that dot its land giving you a real sense of place.

Hákonarson stoic leads, two brothers who run adjacent sheep farms who haven’t spoken in 40 years, are wonderfully played by Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíusson. We’re never informed why the fissure formed, but you can feel the tension whenever they have to interact. Their common bond, though, is the devotion to their flock. You can see a beaming pride when a rural competition is won, and the connection is further evidenced by the fact that each ram and sheep has a name, and the farmers know their individual personality traits.

Rams has a lot of heart, but never wears it on its sleeve. It’s closeted, but sometimes you can see it shine out from the cracks in the door … this makes it all the more authentic.

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