Cain and Abel and Sheep

Those of us who hail from the Anglosphere may be forgiven for believing that the sole cultural output of the Nordic Nations are grim thrillers. Rams, an Icelandic tragicomedy about a fraternal feud between two Icelandic sheep farmers, shows otherwise.

At one point in the proceedings one of the brothers comments disapprovingly about vets being “university educated folk from the south”. He means the south of Iceland. Europe looks at Iceland and sees a periphery; the rest of Iceland looks at the farmers in the north and sees its own periphery. Appropriately this tale of men on the edge of Europe’s edge, plays out with more solitude than one usually sees in a film. It is fitting that various animals are credited cast members because their human counterparts spend much of their time acting alongside sheep and sheepdogs. These and other near wordless scenes cut to the essence of the characters far faster than dialogue ever could.

This unusual sensibility makes for an excellent film. It is melancholy yet punctuated with laugh out loud moments. It engages you in lives whose apparent simplicity conceals great emotional depths.

8/10 – a minimalist masterpiece

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