The complex story of two sheep farmers in a small Icelandic community struggling with the devastation of their livestock is further compounded by the fact the farmers are also brothers who refuse to communicate with each other in the rural drama, Rams.
Gummi Bodvarsson (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) lives a quiet existence with just his sheep to keep him company. After entering his prize ram, Gaspar in a local contest, and losing to his neighbor (and older brother) Kiddi’s (Theodór Júlíusson) ram, Sproti, Gummi discovers that the winning ram is diseased and having come contact with the other contestants may spread creating an epidemic.
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While fear spreads throughout the valley with everyone uncertain if they will lose their flocks, that drama takes a backseat to a larger, more insidious set of circumstances at work. Although they live a stone’s throw away from each other, because of a family disagreement, Gummi and his older brother Kiddi, may see each other daily but that closeness disguises the great rift between the siblings. They exchange no words and their relationship is as cold as the Icelandic winter that engulfs their community.
While the two share blood, they treat each other as strangers, each seeking to find a way to connect but their foolish pride and anger prevents them from doing so. After both their flocks are put down, each brother handles the loss in different ways. The extroverted Gummi commiserates with his
While the two share blood, they treat each other as strangers, each seeking to find a way to connect but their foolish pride and anger prevents them from doing so. After both their flocks are put down, each brother handles the loss in different ways. The extroverted Gummi commiserates with his friends while the introverted Kiddi finds comfort in the bottle.
But just as the snow slowly thaws, so too does an opportunity present itself for the stubborn ‘ram-like’ brothers to find their way back to each other, and ironically it is their bonding over their shared love over the one possession their parents left them that both share – their beloved animals.
Written and directed by Grímur Hákonarson, Rams is truly a character study about the ways in which hurt people hurt others, not out of spite or disdain but as a strange twisted form of concern and love. Everything in this story is symbolic, their attitudes toward each other are symbolic of the animals under their care as they both have exteriors that are cold as biting winter.
This no-frills drama benefits from solid performances from both Sigurjónsson and Júlíusson as the battling siblings. They each downplay their performances giving Hákonarson room to explore their interesting dynamic. This quiet story may bore those accustomed to plenty of action and thrills but there is a warm comfort in the strange, yet universal family dynamic that is the engine of this story.
The film was Iceland’s entry for the Academy Awards but did not make the short list and was disqualified. While Rams won’t get its chance to shine on the Oscar big stage, it still has enough charm to inspire those who share similar family dynamics. While the story and scenery may be stark, underneath it’s wooly exterior Rams demonstrates that its got plenty of heart.