Review: Rams (PIAF)

– by David Morgan-Brown

Rams-posterThere’s still a couple of months or so before our unpredictable weather reaches cooler climates, but if you’re itching for that comfy, cold feeling, the upcoming Icelandic film at PIAF, Rams, will give you just that. Two farmer brothers, Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson), decide to break their 40 year old silence between each other to band together and save their flock of sheep from being exterminated due to an outbreak of a deadly disease.

This may not sound like a particular interesting storyline … and maybe it isn’t. This is a small story that would need a lot more meat to it to make this more resonating or memorable. But unfortunately the film has a hard time finding a solid tonal footing, unsure of whether it wants to be a comedy or a drama. It seems to side with drama, trying to make this comedic plot seem more serious than it is, though there are a few gags thrown here and there (the funniest one involving a bobcat machine).

Going against the damp Nordic weather, this film is very dry. The acting is, as so often in European films, very reserved and withheld, with only a real emotional outburst occurring in the film’s last climatic sequence. Some films can strive on an emotional monotony, if they appear to have a self-awareness about it, but Rams is simply one-note throughout, lending itself a feeling of fatigue-inducing discomfort.

I also could’ve been done with more of the titular animals, as they get a few scenes for themselves (such as a “love-making” scene with one male ram and a number of females), though even their presence is just not enough to instil any fun, humour, or much needed eccentricity to bring some kind of life to this film. There’s a quirkiness with the deadpan, dull-eyed, yet woolly and cuddly animals that is hinted at, but not established enough to really make these stars of the show seem like more than plot points.

Rams ends on a bit of a sudden note, with the entire establishing of the brothers’ relationship finally reaching a transformative stage in the last scene. It took some time to get there, and it ultimately doesn’t feel that much worth seeing two characters and their relationship with each other do a simple 180. This may seem like a sluggish film to get through, due to the utterly depressing and saddening nature of the subject matter, as well as how glacial the character interactions are that build up this brothership small piece by small piece – there’s a lot of rough pacing to get to this obvious character arc.

Rams will be playing at the Somerville Auditorium from 14-20 March 7:30pm, and at the ECU Joondalup Pines from 22-24 & 26-27 March 7:30pm. Buy your tickets here


Image credit: Cohen Media, Hollywood Reporter

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