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🫀InstacrushChristmaslover™🎄🎅’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
"This is the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and have her nonsense respected".
Set in a deserted environmental Iceland. There's a fantasy going created by none other then A24 themselves. I love A24's brand of movies since they offer nothing but visual storytelling to invoke an audience so griped by what there seeing that's it's almost impossible to explain what you've seen out of it. Whether it was a project, idealistic character study or any type of central main "theme" it runs around in course then theirs Lamb. A movie fantasized in creating it's own unique animal then just redeem it. I'd hate to admit that I was in the middle of this one because I do adore it's strengths in visual storytelling especially it's rich Icelandic folklore. It captures the moralities of motherhood where she's challenged to protect her newborn in order to survive. Although Lamb takes the concept in it's essence seriously, there were smart aspects I loved about it once the film was over. When it ended, I felt a disgusting rut in my stomach because it is both wonderful to explore and despite being a beautiful looking film, it has a coherent story behind it then just landscape.
By the beef and the bold, A24 specifically made an art house film to alter there way of making movies. I mean lots of A24's movies do and relay mostly on fantasy or fiction or straight up horror. Lamb was not necessarily, by any means a horror movie. It's true horror is what our two main antagonists Maria and Ingvar. Both live in alone in Iceland. In the middle of nowhere is the both of them taking care of their lambs while at the same time developing their characters through visuals. In the opening sequence we see a fading establishing shot of a foggy tin day where there's a group of cows running from an off screen figure. Then we cut back to a scene of Maria's lambs looking off into what's a distance. We don't know what we're looking at because there invokes the mystery behind it. There's an unknown monster we see but it's not present into the movie. It invokes mystery while combining horror. It's simple as that.
Lamb's absurd fantasy isn't psychological yet it's mythological themes sure packed me up a great stomach. Maria and Ingvar are far from an perfect couple that's childless, until one day a nameless lamb gives birth to a fetish that's half human, half lamb like. A combination of the two things I mentioned. So I've noticed a problem. The problem is that the film never gets to explain how the lamb genetically mutated a little lamb genetically altered into both human body and lamb DNA all too together. It never explains really because that's the point, a movie like this containing weird, unexplainable elements invokes mystery or this film leaves it up to your interpretation as to why a lamb gives birth to half human half lamb in the first place. It never stops for exposition or anything. It's basically more sight and sound and scope then narration since there's barely any dialogue because it wants you to interpret in your own mind what's really going on or what's going to happen next. It's not a Gotcha moment driven horror movie, it had to be stupid or narratively unstructured to be considered having Got you moments on screen for 1 hour. It relays more on the characters and the world.
It plays differently with the genre. It more in line parodies the horror genre in such a way where it's not played in humorous touch. Lamb spends the majority of the film developing characters especially the relationship Maria has with Ada. Once Ada is born, Maria carefully is protective of her own daughter even if there are scenes where I could see she wasn't as protective as she was advertised to be. Their are so non linear major flaws here and there. The true horror is Maria going through motherhood, it specifically tackles themes of motherhood in such a way where I could relate to it. It's played convincingly and it's characters share a silent dynamic with Ada even though Ada is quiet then the other two. She's not the weirdest character I've seen out of any movie but her human like movements I guess weren't done out of CGI or any horrible computer effects. I think A24 managers or artists made a realistic Lamb mask or fur to make the human like movements more characteristics. It shines. If this was a Robert Zemeckis feature then it would be completely motion captured then complete realism. I am just awed by what A24 did with the visuals because it's very, very ambitious to a fault. I mean the demonic Lamb at the end was done in distracting CGI.
The story was interesting in a certain way. It revolves around both the motherhood aspects I've loved from this film. Naomi Repace gave her finest performance of the year. I guess the last movie I saw from her is Prometheus. Her return to acting is flawlessly impressive to a fault. I think her character wasn't developed that much but her love for Ada was more sympathetic and compassionate then what the brother tin character did. The brother was introduced in the second act only to physically try to murder Ada but after that they built there relationship pretty well. The visuals are extremely ambitious and wonderfully too realistic to be desired. A24's previous film "High Life'' explored more surrealistic playful visuals into the black void of the universe, The light house had little visuals but the black and white contrast contributed to the visuals like a keyboard. The daunting yet experimental visuals in this have unique effort and it's astounding landscapes are wonderful to look at. The mountains of Iceland never looked this beautiful on the big screen. Even though I saw this on TV and made the experience a bit too unprofessional.
The director, Valdimar Johansson, this is his first directorial debut and it shows, Valdimar Johansson created an atmospheric movie both an haunting scope and a largely convincing character study of mother hood. It handles the themes quite largely in it's presentation. Maria's belief that Ada has a "gift" for humanity kind of made me think of the other film "Annette'', both movies have a couple alone in a place were they give birth to a gifted child that's under the radar of a presence. They share similar themes except the twist at the end of Annette is a reveal that comedian Henry McHenry envisioned her own daughter as a puppet. Although they don't share some themes equally but they are constantly both fantasies. The direction Valdimar gives is impressive. He takes the complex realities of motherhood into another level. The couple at first don't realize a giant demonic Lamb is searching for Ada not the mother lamb that gave birth to her.
The cinematography did compliment every shot. The shots where it's world building showed a desperate fault then it's astoundingly much beautiful. The performances from everyone especially Naomi Repace was dazzling. The dialogue, the interactions with Ada were amazing yet somewhat phenomenal. This type of experimental genre combines complex themes and major characteristics of life in motherhood that I relate or connected to between it's likable characters. I heard a story before similar to Lamb, In the 18th century there was this older couple who based on the pig's oral DNA and gave birth to a half human half pig person. The pig was violently aggressive so she had to stay inside the underground basement while she stared from a window where a few kids were playing around while the pig human stared out the tin window. It was a interesting story I've heard years ago and remember it now is quite terrifying.
A24 succeed at making yet another art house fantasy that I love to see once again. It's complex themes are just as depressingly atmospheric as it's daunting visuals. This is a movie I've never seen before quite too fondly. The formula for this movie didn't wear thin but wore a different coat of true horror. The disturbing elements where little shown but it's Ada's human like presence that makes her quite terrifying in person. I love the visual storytelling in this so as it's presentation. I think most of it's character development is believable and imaginative. Lamb's very believable concept is unbelievable and it's crypt fantasy is daunting.
Lamb was one of the weirdest films I've seen all year. It's intriguingly believable concept, stellar acting and dialogue, it's presentation in terms of themes and the characters are astoundingly flawless. Every time I thought about this film after watching it, there was no denying it's magical scope. It's smart characters and wise directional choices. A astounding film indeed.
In conclusion A24 continues to be my favorite film studio of my own generation. They make pretty complex films if you ask me. From the beautiful spirit commercial that's Good Time or Under the Silver Lake. This had to be my least favorite out of A24 thus far. I hope they make more impressive movies in the future otherwise Hollywood can stay dead. Overall a 4 out of 5 for me, it's simply beautiful and relays more on characters, story and scope then just anything that ruins a movie this beautiful but ahead of it's time. Overall a beautiful film indeed.