Weirdness and beauty on an Icelandic sheep farm

  • Hilmir Snaer Gudnason, left, and Noomi Rapace in “Lamb.” A24

  • Noomi Rapace stars in the Icelandic supernatural thriller “Lamb.” Lilja Jons / A24

The Detroit News
Published: 10/13/2021 8:49:56 AM

It’s tough to talk about Lamb without giving away the surprise of Lamb. And that surprise is worth experiencing for yourself, as is this strange, delicate and oddly touching Icelandic folk tale about grieving, healing and the laws of nature.

Noomi Rapace (the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) stars as Maria, a sheep farmer in rural Iceland along with her husband, Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason). They’re a quiet, unassuming couple living a quiet, unassuming life, and an innocuous conversation about time travel over breakfast one morning hints at a traumatic loss in their past.

One day while tending to their sheep, they take a particular liking to a newborn lamb, bringing it into their home, raising it as their own and calling it Ada. It’s fair to say that from that point on, weirdness ensues.

But director Valdimar Johannsson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Bjork collaborator Sjon (if it’s Iceland, there’s gotta be a Bjork connection) has an incredible handle on tone, and what could be outrageous or uproarious is handled in a disarmingly tender manner. At its core Lamb is a human story, and Johannsson never falls out of rhythm with its beating heart.

Lamb’s sparse look and washed out visuals recall the minimalist horror of The Witch, and Johannsson doles out several reveals that send shock waves without overwhelming the balance of his universe. At its center is Rapace, who gives a remarkable performance, playing strong-willed yet vulnerable, hopeful yet hesitant. She makes this curiosity of a film something relatable and something special.

Lamb is now playing at Red River Theatres in Concord.


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