I love Icelandic language – even the name of this movie, which is just wooly things that go baaaa, sounds epic in Icelandic: Hrutar!
This was another film screening at the Palace Cinemas as part of the Scandinavian Film Festival, and one I wanted to see the most, because of its setting and also because it won a prize at Cannes (mind you, so did Dancer in the Dark and I wanted to strangle that movie).
It’s set in a secluded valley in northern Iceland, and is about two elderly brothers, Gummi and Kiddi, who are both sheep farmers and live side by side, but haven’t said a word to each other in over 40 years. The film never really goes into the details of why, but Kiddi’s irascible temper must have had something to do with it. Their only means of communication is the notes that Gummi occasionally passes to his brother through his dog (this dog mail system is just the cutest thing). Their world is turned upside down when Kiddi’s prized ram suffers from terrible infection which means devastation not just for him and Gummi but every farmer in the valley.
I always love it when a movie pulls you into its world that’s so different from the one you live in it might as well be another planet. Rams moves at a gentle pace and not that much happens in it, but you feel totally engrossed in the lives and concerns of its characters, for whom the sheep are their world. The bleakly beautiful Icelandic landscape lends the movie a special vibe, helped along by the effective musical score. Even though the circumstances that the brothers find themselves in are quite tragic and sad, there’s also plenty of humour and hilarious quirky details. You know from the start that the relationship between Gummi and Kiddi is going to transform somehow by the end, but it’s done in an understated, believable manner which is touching and lovely.
Mum and I then sat through the majority of the credits, where 95% of surnames ended in either “son” or “dottir”, which is how Icelandic surnames are formed. That was pretty cool too.