Rams Adam-Fresco'S REVIEW

Less really is more in this Icelandic tale of two elderly farmers and their flocks. The bushy-bearded brothers live in a remote village, just a short distance apart, yet, due to stubbornness, simmering hatred, and sibling prize-ram rivalry, haven’t spoken in four decades. Yup, they’re as hard-headed as their rams, but that doesn’t stop them communicating occasionally, via a note-carrying sheepdog.

Set in a bleak, but beautiful, wintery landscape, snow hasn’t looking this stunning since the Coens’ Fargo. The eccentric brothers here face everyday hardships, but when their world is threatened by a dire disease capable of wiping out their flocks and livelihood, Rams takes a turn from the oddly comic, to the darkly tragic. Yet warmth and hope survive as the threat to their flocks brings the battling brothers together to save their way of life.

Naturalistic acting lends this drama a documentary edge, slowly sucking you in to a world both brutally real and bizarrely surreal, whilst mesmerising camerawork, pacing and scoring keep you there. Simply told, with flashes of wry humour, writer/director Grímur Hákonarson conveys the tough life of farmers in a country of 200,000 people, outnumbered by 800,000 sheep. I came away knowing far more than I ever wanted to about traditional Icelandic farming practices, the delights of subtly skewered Scandinavian humour and, um, sheep.

Rams may be a small story, but it’s got a great big heart and bags of appeal for movie-lovers who like their films served up chock-full of meaning and metaphor galore, with a hefty side-order of delightfully off-kilter quirk.