Cecile Pin reviews Icelandic film Rams, winner of last year’s Un Certain Regard competition at the Cannes Film Festival
I started watching Rams not knowing what to expect. It is an Icelandic film, dealing with two brothers who haven’t spoken for 40 years. Their calm life changes when their sheep must be slaughtered following an outbreak of scrapie.
Such a plot could lead to either a dramatic film, or a comic one. Rams mixes those two genres to create a unique piece of work, whose drama becomes intermingled with slight ludicrousness. I was somehow reminded of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot by the absurd that is present in the two brothers’ characters and situation, as well as the melancholia existent throughout the film.
Props must go to Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíusson, who portray brothers Gummi and Kiddi respectively. It probably helps that they were unknown to me before, but they embody their characters perfectly. They even somewhat resemble their precious rams, thanks to their large, grey beards, and their rough appearance finalized by a piercing gaze.
The cinematography too, should be mentioned. As I am going to visit Iceland in April, this film made me look forward to my trip even more. The simple shots of snowy landscapes and modest houses make for a humble setting that focuses on the raw beauty of nature.
At a short running time of 92 minutes, Rams nevertheless provides us with a film filled with emotion, appealing to both our empathy and sense of humour. The ending is quite abrupt, and leaves you longing for more. But maybe this longing is necessary to appreciate the film even more.
Featured image credit: Rams official publicity