Stars: Noomi Rapace, Hilmir Snær Guðnason, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson
Co-written with Icelandic author Sjón, director Jóhannsson’s almost unquanitifiably strange feature debut, some twelve years in the planning, is a bizarre and unsettling but weirdly affecting dark fable that is likely to divide and/or just plain baffle audiences.
Maria (Rapace) and Ingvar (Guðnason) live on a farm in a remote but beautiful mountainous region of Iceland with a herd of sheep, a cat and a dog. After the death of its mother, they adopt a lamb and take it into the house to raise it as one of their own. The couple seem blissfully happy until a visit from Ingvar’s skint musician brother Pétur (Haraldsson) who is understandably baffled by the new addition to the household. Pétur gradually becomes accustomed to the animal, but cracks have already begun to emerge. Meanwhile strange visitations are emerging from the perpetual mist that surrounds the farm.
To reveal more would spoil this unique and disturbing folk horror-inflected study of grief, isolation and family. The cast play this scenario, which could easily have descended into comic absurdism, absolutely straight, with Rapace particularly impressive as the fiercely protective almost feral mother. Jóhannsson’s elicits strikingly expressive performances from his non-human cast too, while excellent sound design adds to the feeling of impending dread.
Lamb is released on 10th May
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