Frozen fraternal relations thaw in Grímur Hákonarson’s Rams, a comic drama about two brothers, in a remote farming village, whose rams and sheep suddenly become plagued by a contagious, deadly virus. The film’s central character is Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson), a bearded, sober, wifeless herder whose raison d’être is to win the annual best-in-show for rams that his estranged brother, also bearded and wifeless but irascible and not sober, snatches away from him by half a point. Initially comic, Rams turns dramatic once we realize the economic consequences of the virus infecting the sheep. Decidedly low-key, the movie never goes overboard, with cinematography or music, to milk tears. With icy vistas and snowstorms, DP Sturla Brandth Grøvlen finds ways to astonish us. Beat-by-beat, Rams does not move significantly slower than a Hollywood movie; it is not a plotless meditation on existence, rather, a quasi-biblical yarn with a powerful ending.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White