Cinema Review: Rams | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, March 8th, 2021  


Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Directed by Jeremy Sims

Feb 05, 2021 Web Exclusive
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Adapted from Grímur Hákonarson’s 2015 film of the same name, Rams transports the narrative from the Icelandic tundra to the Southern Hemisphere and sets it against the stunning backdrop of rural Australia. Chuck in Sam Neill and Michael Caton for good measure, and the results are a charming and punchy film with a strong message at its center.

Colin (Neill) and Les (Caton) are brothers, and renowned sheep farmers who live on the same plot of land, and added to that they haven’t exchanged words in 40 years, a tragic fall out from a dispute that still feels incredibly raw despite the time that has lapsed. They go about their business without ever acknowledging one other, aside from the occasional scowl or grunt. However their feud is thrown into doubt when a sudden outbreak of a bacterial infection called Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD)  breaks out in their valley, and they are forced to slaughter their flocks, tear down their barns and wait for two years before they can return to rearing sheep.

For Colin, Les and the other farmers in their community this has a devastating effect and they soon find that without the focus of their life’s work, they begin to quickly unravel. Les turns to drink, but Colin, ever the solitary creature, adapts his home into a makeshift indoor sheep farm, complete with separate pens for his prize ram and his three sheep, a manure shoot under his bathroom floor and a cupboard where he grows fresh grass for them to graze.

He manages to keep this ruse going for several months until a local government official starts sniffing around, and a deadly forest fire closes in, forcing Colin to turn to Les for help and attempt one last shot at a daring escape, to save his flock and their family's legacy.

At times the film remains undecided about whether it wants to be a comedy or a drama and tries to be a hybrid of both without really ever achieving it. The jokes feel strained and the supporting cast don’t add much overall to the proceedings. Where it strikes hardest is when it leans into the darker elements of Les’ addiction and the feud between the two brothers that has torn them apart for so long. Sam Neill is also such a captivating performer, and we spend most of the film with him as the focus.

The Australian backdrop is the real hero here though, and it really does take your breath away at times, and juxtaposes the very morose narrative against the raw natural beauty of the valley.

Rams at its heart, is a film about protecting your heritage and staying true to your beliefs. In the age of fake news, alternative facts and big data - it’s a refreshing look at a more simple and analogue existence. 


Author rating: 6/10

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