It’s hard to talk about “Lamb” without revealing “Lamb’s” surprise. And this surprise is worth experiencing for yourself, as is this weird, delicate, and eerily touching Icelandic folk tale about mourning, healing, and the laws of nature.
Noomi Rapace (the original “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) plays Maria, a sheep farmer in the Icelandic countryside with her husband, Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason). They are a calm, unpretentious couple who lead calm, unpretentious lives, and a casual conversation about time travel over breakfast one morning hints at a traumatic loss in their past.
One day, while tending to their sheep, they take a special attachment to a newborn lamb, bring it into their home, raise it like theirs, and call it Ada. It’s fair to say that from that point on, weirdness ensues.
But director Valdimar Johannsson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Bjork collaborator Sjon (if it’s Iceland, there has to be a connection to Bjork) has an incredible mastery of tone, and what could be outrageous or tumultuous is treated with disarming tenderness. At its core, “Lamb” is a human story, and Johannsson never loses the beat of his beating heart.
The sparse look of “Lamb” and washed-out visuals are reminiscent of the minimalist horror of “The Witch,” and Johannsson distributes several revelations that send shockwaves without upsetting the balance of his universe. At its center is Rapace, who gives a remarkable performance, playing willful but vulnerable, hopeful but hesitant. She makes this curiosity of a film something relatable and something special.
Rating: B +
MPAA Rating: R (for some bloody violent images and sexuality / nudity)
Where to watch: Currently showing in theaters
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