Movie Review: Lamb (Dýrið)

If weird movies are your thing, look no further than this year’s clear winner, LAMB. This contemporary folk-horror tale from Iceland (where else?) will shock many viewers with its absurdity and will challenge others with its slow pacing, but it will also be the most unique film audiences will see this year. In yet another year of cinematic superheroes and reboots, LAMB is like a breath of fresh Icelandic air.

Husband and wife, Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) and Maria (Noomi Rapace, THE SECRETS WE KEEP; STOCKHOLM; UNLOCKED), live an isolated existence on a farm in the shadow of Iceland’s volcanic mountains where they raise sheep. Their lives are as drab as their environment they live in but that changes in an instant when one of their ewes gives birth to a very special lamb. The couple, who are childless, see the birth as an answer to their prayers and they agree to raise the lamb as their own. While Baby Ada ignites long-dormant happiness in the couple, it doesn’t last long though. Ingvar’s deadbeat brother Pétur (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) arrives on the farm, bringing with him both third-party perspective and unresolved feelings for Maria.

LAMB is the feature film debut for Vladimar Jóhannsson, who co-wrote the screenplay with  internationally acclaimed poet, novelist and lyricist, Sjón. The story ambles along at 10/10 on the weirdness scale until Pétur arrives, at which point it hits 11 and then 12. All the while, Maria and Ingvar are over the moon with their bundle of joy, ignoring the reality of the situation, which you know will somehow come back to bite them in the butt. And that’s what’s good about this film. Jóhannsson and Sjón make it impossible to predict how this fable will end. Where it doesn’t work, though, is the journey to get there. It can be painfully slow at times, and the film’s climax leaves just a few too many questions unanswered.

Story aside, the three actors all give committed performances, especially Rapace who speaks Icelandic here, a language she learned when she lived in that country as a child. Maria is far and away different from any other character we’ve seen the Swedish actress play.

LAMB is available now on Amazon Prime Video. It has already been selected as Iceland’s entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar so there’s a good chance it will come to a cinema near you at some point. If you can handle watching something “different”, check it out.

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