With echoes of David Lynch's 'The Straight Story', Rams is a quietly wonderful piece of filmmaking, managing to be humorous, frustrating and moving in equal measure.
Set in a small Icelandic community, we are introduced to brothers, Gummi and Kiddi who continue to live beside one another, despite not having spoken in forty years. The reason behind their disdain for each another is never truly revealed and you get the feeling that there is an amalgam of reasons for their rift. These two are the proverbial rams, butting heads continually, one mainly through silent disdain and the other through angry, drunken outbursts. After a simple and visual opening, in which Gummi finds one of Kiddi’s sheep dead, it is established that both their lives and livelihood revolve around the farming of their flock. Imagine the horror then when Gummi discovers that his brother’s sheep have developed an infectious disease called scrapie. Not only will this impact the brothers directly but also the rest of their small farming community. Gummi has to decide whether or not to alert the authorities, knowing it may result in a complete culling of all the sheep in the valley.
Let's be honest though this tale isn't really about the sheep; it's about small town life, relationships, pride, anger, humour. Introduced from Gummi’s point of view, it is his story we initially follow, with our feelings towards him fluctuating as events unfold. He is by far the more appealing brother of the two, as Kiddi appears to be a drunken, angry and unpredictable man. However, as in life, you are left with the feeling that people are far more complex than they first appear.
When Gummi does decide to report the scrapie in Kiddi’s sheep, it results in a diktat that all the sheep must be culled with the repercussions felt throughout the community as well as directly between the brothers. Tempers bubble over and the brothers’ relationship deteriorates further. Gummi then chooses to do something understandable yet outrageous on the same hand; hiding some prized sheep in his basement. Not only does this propel the story forward, it reveals more of his character and gives rise to some fantastically wry moments that are perfectly executed. This mixture of drama and humour creates a relatable and believable tale that culminates in the brothers need to pull together despite their long standing animosity. The question is, can they?
Underpinned by two fantastic central performances from Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíusson as Gummi and Kiddi respectively, Rams is told with honesty and humour. Writer / Director Grímur Hákonarson presents a recognisable vision of life, that you can instantly connect with. A simple tale deftly told, it will leave you with a desire to give the person next to you a squeeze (or perhaps even contact that long lost sibling).
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Rams on Facebook: ramsfilm
Writer / Director: Grímur Hákonarson
Cast: Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Theodór Júlíusso, Charlotte Bøving, Jón Benónýsson