“What the fuck is this?” bleats Ingvar’s brother in LAMB.
I suspect this line will resonate with many in the audience.
LAMB is the feature film directorial debut of Valdimar Johannsson.
Noomi Rapace and Hilmer Snaer Guonasan play Maria and Ingvar, a childless couple farming a slice of Iceland.
They till the soil and toil at shepherding, and seem content with their lot.
During lambing, they make a remarkable discovery, and the very real becomes surreal, the natural becomes supernatural.
Referencing the recent Icelandic film A White, White Day, the New Testament nativity story, Icelandic folk lore and nursery rhymes, LAMB unabashedly makes a ewe turn and rams home the astonishment.
Maria had a little lamb,
Its parentage was hard to know.
But everywhere Maria went,
The Lamb was sure to go.
Maria is no Little Bo Peep,
And her husband’s no creep,
But they’re both in deep
With shenanigans of sheep
In a story that will haunt your sleep.
Noomi Rapace brings an exacting cold but caring element to Maria, the driving force in the film. Hilmir Snær brings a vulnerable strength to Ingvar’s character. And Björn Hlynur who plays Ingvar’s brother, Pétur, sets forth the right amount of conflict and relief into the surreal world of the couple, the personification of wolfish behaviour that strives to dare them out of their illusion.
Ovine the top, fifteen minutes could have been sheared from the hundred and five minute running time of LAMB, but for audiences eager to be shepherded away from the mob of the ordinary, it’s worth the gambol.
Featured photo: Noomi Rapace and Hilmer Snaer Guonasan in LAMB