Lamb ★★★

A slow, yet careful exercise in atmosphere and drama, Lamb (2021) is not the film I expected to see but it was an experience that I was somewhat pleasantly surprised by.

The film concerns an ostensibly unhappy couple, lacking any and all chemistry, who live on a farm in a remote mountain range. When a sheep unexpectedly gives birth to a human-lamb hybrid, the couple raise it as their own, bonding and finding purpose in their life. All the while it is clear that something evil is afoot.

Perhaps the most obvious strength of the film is its arresting cinematography. Camera movements perfectly frame the scenes, both beautifully and functionally. The colour palette is incredibly dull and grey, yet the colours brighten and warm as the couple find joy and purpose. The weather reflects the character's journey and their relationship, adding to the atmosphere. Told with little dialogue, Lamb utilises effective visual storytelling throughout.

While their respective characters are underdeveloped, both Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason show their talent through subdued, intricate performances. If it was correct to say that the animals gave great performances, I would certainly say so. The sheep, dog, and cat all feed into the suspense and the uncertainty. From the outset, it was increasingly obvious that the animals were seeing things that the humans were not aware of.

The ending may be jarring and disappointing for some. However, once I viewed the ending in light of the themes weaved into the story (loss and healing), it made sense in a really disturbing way. The story itself may be somewhat ridiculous, yet the film adopts a totally serious, consistent tone which is made all the more convincing by the performances.

Overall, Lamb is a technically competent and incredibly atmospheric film. Its slow pace may frustrate some, and the story and characters could definitely have been developed further; however, there was no point where I was bored because it was such a unique film.

Lamb (2021) - B

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