If you’ve read Halldór Laxness’ Independent People you’ll have a good idea of the relationship between Icelandic farmers and their sheep. Fast-forward almost a hundred years and there are still people struggling to eke out a living in the Icelandic hills, exposed to the harshness of the county’s climate. Grímur Hákonarson’s film Rams follows a pair of estranged brothers fighting to maintain their way of life.
Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) hasn’t spoken to his brother Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) for 40 years despite running adjacent farms. When once again Kiddi’s ram wins the annual local competition, his consternation turns to shock when the animal shows signs of scrapie. The brothers need to band together in order to preserve their livelihood, but that’s no mean task after decades of locking horns and recrimination.
Rams is a beautifully realised tale of fraternal enmity and a quiet portrait of a peaceful and largely archaic existence. Sigurður Sigurjónsson is brilliant as the beleaguered Gummi, tackling the persistent disappointments of life with a quiet determination. Charlotte Bøving is also impressive as the local vet, but the real winner is the beautiful Icelandic landscapes which are richly painted by Hákonarson in every shot.
Rams is out in cinemas on Friday.