This like a curious parable, exploring a story of competition and jealousy between brothers, who are really far too old for such schoolboy feuding. Rams delicately puts its pieces in place before showing its hand. It amounts to something far greater than what first seems to be apparent, culminating with surprising and genuine catharsis.
Set in rural Iceland, Rams predominately exists between the two homes of warring brothers who live next door to each other, but haven’t spoken to each other in decades, choosing instead to send messages carried by a rather well trained canine. They each own a herd of rams, which is their ultimate source of pride. When a lethal disease infects the sheep of one brother, all the animals in the area have to be culled, obliterating the way of life for all the local farmers, but without necessarily bringing these particular siblings any closer together.
It’s certainly a slow burner which ultimately pays off with visceral emotions, whilst mixing in some very dark comedy. The remoteness of the location and the harsh nature of the Icelandic climate is utilised superbly for dramatic effect, creating a surprisingly poignant and unforgiving conclusion, which seems rather fitting when considering the bitter emotions displayed throughout so much of the film. The real genius of the film is how it mixes cold with warmth, both in the hearts of the brothers and in its chilling and unforgettable final image.
Review by David Rank
Rams is out now in the UK. Certificate 15 (UK). Running time 91 mins.