By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Anyone who has seen the trailer of this film should already know that they are in for a rather bizarre and unusual movie going into Lamb. Having seen the trailer and intrigued with what it offers, I simply could not resist the opportunity to experience the movie. After all, this is Fantastic Fest, a film festival widely known for its strange offerings and incredible delights. After watching this movie, I can honestly say that there is nothing quite like this film this year, but at the same time, I feel that the filmmakers are hoping that this draw alone will help sell this film. While I was intrigued and bewildered by Lamb, I honestly feel that audiences deserve a clearer message than what they will get from this unconventional movie.
Noomi Rapace and star as married couple Maria and Ingvar. This Icelandic couple live a humble life as sheep ranchers who work hard on their land to subsist within their simple life. As satisfying as their work is, Maria and Ingvar have their marital struggles, and have also had to deal with the untimely death of their only child. Their simple lives are drastically changed when one of their sheep gives birth to an abnormal child that Maria and Ingvar bring into their home to offer it the extra care it needs. While this seems normal at first, it becomes apparent that this lamb is becoming a replacement for the child they tragically lost. Things get even more complicated when Ingvar’s troubled brother Petur (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) makes an unexpected visit to their home.
Written and directed Valdimar Jóhannsson, who co-wrote the film with Sjón, Lamb is definitely a remarkable experience in that it often bewilders, disturbs, and absolutely boggles the mind. To his credit, Jóhannsson has created a darkly atmospheric and gorgeous looking movie that is utterly unforgettable. However, the filmmakers spend so much of the audience’s time confusing and confounding them that when the movie concludes, it is definitely hard to decipher what the entire story means. The movie obviously deals with the tragedy of loss and the hope that a life and relationship can be salvaged, but the strange horrific aspects of the movie never clearly expresses the motivations of the filmmakers.
The trio of actors in the film perform exceptionally, particularly Noomi Rapace who is extraordinary as Maria. I was also impressed with the performance of Björn Hlynur Haraldsson who gives a remarkable turn as Petur. Also great is Björn Hlynur Haraldsson who stars as Maria’s more stoic husband Ingvar.
I would definitely recommend Lamb as a mere curiosity piece, because one simply needs to see it to believe it. Cinematically and aesthetically, there is much to appreciate and praise, but the writing and story still leaves much to be desired. If it was the goal of the filmmakers to baffle their audiences, then they have succeeded winningly.