Lamb

Lamb ★★★½

What to Expect When Yew Expecting.

Boasting several special effects credits to his name, Valdimar Jóhannsson’s debut is perhaps more of an offbeat oddity than you’d expect. Following a couple at a remote farm in Sweden, one of their herd of sheep ends up delivering a strange child that they immediately take in as their own.

With an executive producer credit from Bela Tarr, Lamb is a steady and often still film, tying together folklore whimsy with domesticated isolation. The film attempts to play itself as deadpan as possible, with a palpable sense of something unnatural afoot amongst the rolling fog and towering mountains. With Noomi Rapace as the steely matriarch who seems to refuse advances that could destroy her makeshift idyllic life.

It’s a shame that the film ends up caving in to it’s own absurdity, introducing an audience surrogate character who’s entire purpose feels like to break the weird tension and mystique of the film. And I have to admit it’s conclusion is wildly disappointing, with Jóhannsson’s will to avoid the film toppling into a genre piece that is threaten throughout less subverting expectations and instead simply running out of track. It’s almost an entire third act short.

Outside of that, Lamb does have a lot of charm and a lot of impact. It’s fun to see a film where you’re never entirely certain what footing you are on, and little Ava herself is a quirky creation worthy of the film’s existence itself. It’s dark ideas around maternal instincts aren’t entirely subtle or unique but they’re fleshed out enough to provide a pulse for Lamb’s largely cold exterior.

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