Lamb ★★★

Valdimar Johannsson's atmospheric debut feature Lamb/Dyrid is pastoral fantasy/horror that deals with the strange fable of parenthood in the Icelandic hills. It's an eerie and surreal story of nature vs. nurture that depicts the grief and anguish of a childless couple Ingvar and Maria and subsequently how they decide to raise a unnatural lamb-child born in their sheep barn, an ovine girl Ada. Maria becomes a surrogate mother to the inhuman hybrid at the expense of another's life, Ada's mother lamb. The anthropomorphic baby fills the void of their deceased daughter and the couple derives happiness out of being parents once again. But soon the consequences of defying the will of nature start to haunt them when a force of nature out in the world demands Ada.

It's a slow burn and grossly oversimplified story that prioritise its skillful aesthetics and tone over a meaningful exploration of the anxieties. Even though it provides glimpses of the grand, mountainous Icelandic locale and of activities in the house and on the farm, the film falls extremely flat with virtually no characterization and substance. The stupefying silences and occasional informative dialogues turns the characters conspicuously empty. Johannsson ruminates on whether motherhood could transcend nature and nurture on the basis of this folkloric mythology. Adoption may never appear the same after watching how this creepy and odd narrative play out.

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