A24’s Lamb is the debut feature from Icelandic director Valdimar Johannsson featuring a script written by Icelandic poet/ lyricist/ writer Sjon.
It stars Noomi Rapace as the lead protagonist in this dark, Folklorian Drama-Thriller.
In rural Iceland, an isolated couple (Noomi Rapace as Maria, Hilmir Snaer Gudnason as Ingvar) live off the land, farming sheep and welcoming few visitors.
The film opens on a sweeping, desolate landscape straight out of Nordic Fairytale, and the childless couple go about their duties willingly but with little passion.
Before writing this review, I had not known that the script was penned by a Poet/Lyricist however, Sjon’s minimal prose, interjected with long moments of silence absolutely reflect this.
Lamb began its casting process back in February of 2019 but was not distributed until June of 2020 meaning that Kismet graced this production given the film’s core themes of isolation, feeling trapped together in a loveless situation and, fear of the Outside.
Surely Lamb should serve as the perfect accompaniment to the current climate of the world given the separation, enforced solitude and paranoia which so many of us have had to endure.
However, at its core Lamb’s message belies the rape of Mama Nature’s beautiful resources, creatures, and environments for human gain.
Lockdowns gave our natural world some respite; we were witness to wild goats venturing into town centres, foxes casually stalking along urban paths and, flocks of birds coalescing against the night-time sky.
The utterly anarchistic rebellion of our once rarely seen woodland creatures held up a mirror to our invasive habits as a race; Lamb reflects this beautifully in its simple yet utterly cruel arc.
The film’s miniscule cast of only three (human) main characters adds to the claustrophobia shared by Maria and Ingvar who appear trapped in a passionless marriage, desperate for a child which they cannot have.
An immaculate conception welcomes a new family member and, the couple’s home is once again filled with laughter, affection, and hope.
The Maria and Ingvar’s duties shift, as do their overall attitudes and demeanour…until the arrival of Ingvar’s rowdy, drunken brother Petur.
Petur is immediately suspicious of the new arrival, a little girl named Ava and, conflicts rise between the four family members.
Believe me when I say that this is the only synopsis you will need before viewing this achingly beautiful and heart-breaking story because this film truly is a journey and, the greatest journeys in life are best traversed with little foresight as to the destination.
As beautiful as Lamb is to view it is also an extremely tense experience; it carries the air of potential chaos brewing in the periphery and, I cannot remember the last time I physically held my breath during a film viewing.
We are privy to Maria stealing something from nature, giving nothing in return and then needlessly taking again, resulting in bloodshed, tragedy while, exposing her callous nature when things don’t entirely go her way.
Rapace is stunning as ever; her beauty appears free of the confides of time and she throws her soul into Maria holding our gaze as she descends into guttural, screaming rage.
Young Ada anchors the adult characters in the charming innocence of childhood, but adults will always find a way to screw things up through alcohol, quarrels and paranoia; traits reflected in the eyes of the innocent.
The animal actors in this production emanate what the human cast lack; a comfortability in their own skin and, a pureness which many of us lose with the Traumas of age and, of life.
The film handles Trauma largely from the viewpoint of the animals, a unique perspective in film, in a world so enamoured with human gain.
What must animals think of our fighting, division, and needless cruelty?
Lamb answers this question extremely bluntly and forewarns us of what may happen if Gaia fights back.
Earth is a living organism while we are merely parasites; what if we were finally expunged from her loving embrace?
Lamb’s revenge is one of Earth’s lost innocence and, its shocking finale will divide audiences who may not be able to accept its bizarre, gut-wrenching conclusion.
I am not sure if I enjoyed this film however, it did affect me emotionally and, here I am, one week later still trying to process its visceral experience.
Such is often the way with a new A24 release.
Afterall, the best Horror films tend to creep into our minds like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. 3/5 🖤’s
Lamb is available in cinemas across the UK through A24 on: 10/12.
*Apologies for omitting the Icelandic letters when referring to the filmmakers/ cast- my keyboard will not allow them!*
#a24, #valdimarjohannsson, #sjon, #NoomiRapace, #hilmirsnaerguonason, #bjornhlynurharaldsson, #ingvareggertsigurosson, #grimfairytale, #folkhorror