Lamb ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Lamb is a fairy tale.

I think a lot of people are going to want answers from this film, and to do deep readings of its themes (grief, relationships). But I don't really think fairy tales need answers. Sure, some fairy tales are morality stories with a clear lesson, but an equal number of them are just about random horrible things happening to people, who either die or have to get on with their lives. Fairy tales don't usually talk about what happens after the story ends.

In Lamb, something magical and slightly sinister randomly enters the characters' lives: Ada, the cutest lamb child ever. (Cue me doing the Werner Herzog in The Mandalorian voice, "I want to see the baby.")

María and Ingvar know better than to question it, because it's come to them too easily. All of their wishes have been answered. Though they probably think they've earned it with their grief and suffering, they haven't actually paid a cost to receive this blessing. Not yet, anyway.

Even though the couple knows that the bubble of their newly fulfilled life could burst at any moment, even though they'll fight to protect it, they start to get comfortable. They start to think that maybe there's a future ahead of them as a family unit. They start to hope. And just as they do, the magical thing exits their lives as randomly as it entered, extracting a terrible cost as it goes.

Again, I don't think fairy tales really need explanation. Things happen to the people in Lamb, but the story doesn't really ask them to change or grow, just to roll with things as this random blessing appears to them. (The last scenes are arguably enough of an inciting incident to spawn an entirely new film—I'd love to have seen the version of this that opens with Noomi Rapace exploring the mountainous, mist-shrouded world of the sheep-people.)

And that is pleasurable to watch, with great performances, beautiful landscapes, and an irresistible lamb-toddler. There are lots of subtle details that add to the fantastical nature of the world, like the ever-present mountains, the lack of technology, the strange passage of time, the constant daylight. I wasn't keen on seeing so many dead animals up close, but I guess that's farm life.

The only question I had watching Lamb was, "Who had sex with that sheep?" It may be the only answer the film provides (and oh boy, does it answer), but I'm okay with that.

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