Original title:Lamb
Director:Valdimar Jóhannsson
Running time:106 minutes
Release date:08 october 2021
María and Ingvar live reclusively with their flock of sheep on a farm in Iceland. When they discover a mysterious newborn baby, they decide to keep it and raise it as their own. This new perspective brings much happiness to the couple, but nature has one last surprise in store for them...

Mulder's Review

"Cinema is an audiovisual medium that provokes emotion on many levels, and during the writing process we focused on telling the story through images and sounds, reducing dialogue to a minimum. Our film is very much inspired by Icelandic folk tales - not one in particular, but a mixture. We both like realistic stories that contain an element of the absurd or unreal that is never considered as such but instead becomes as realistic as the rest." - Valdimar Jóhannsson

Destabilizing, original, immersive, violent, there would be so many strong words to describe the excellent first film co-written and directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson. Behind this fantastic tale, the director and co-writer delivers a story as strong as it is simple, in which the themes of the dysfunctional family, the place of man in front of his environment and especially the theme of mourning and psychological reconstruction are addressed. Lamb easily stands out as one of the most disconcerting and original films of this year, as much by its way of proposing a fascinating fantastic tale as by its way of creating a real atmosphere in a landscape as calm as worrying.

In the Icelandic countryside far from populated cities, we discover a couple of shepherds, María (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snær Guðnason) whose child Maria died. Never having recovered from this loss, they recluse themselves in the wilderness and live by raising sheep. One day, however, nature gives them a strange surprise and one of their sheep gives birth to a hybrid creature, half human and half sheep, which Maria decides to raise as her own child. The arrival of Ingvar's brother and an important trauma linked to the past will change the course of things.

Far from wanting to play the special effects of Hollywood studios, director Valdimar Jóhannsson prefers to show as little as possible and leave a real doubt about this hybrid creature to the point of wondering if it really exists or is only a fruit of the imagination of this couple of shepherds (at least in the first part of the film). The director also takes advantage of the natural scenery of the Island and creates a real dreamlike atmosphere that draws its strength from the legends that are common in this country. Similarly, this film would not have had such emotional strength without the presence of the actress Noomi Rapace (Millenium saga (2009-2010), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), Prometheus (2012), Alien: Covenant (2017)...). 

Far from being a violent horror film, the director Valdimar Jóhannsson lets hover throughout the film an ominous atmosphere until a film in which violence is unleashed and will not leave the viewers insensitive. Certainly the film is rather slow and wants to keep a certain realism apart from this creature and shows us the difficult life of this couple of shepherds. However, it is undeniable that Lamb is one of the best films of this year and it is not a coincidence that it was selected to represent Iceland in the category of the best international feature film at the 94th Academy Awards ceremony.  Released in Iceland on September 24 and in the United States on October 8 (currently available on VOD on Amazon), we regret the late release in France on December 29.

Directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson
Produced by Hrönn Kristinsdóttir, Sara Nassim, Piodor Gustafsson, Erik Rydell, Klaudia Śmieja-Rostworowska, Jan Naszewski, Zuzanna Hencz, Marcin Drabiński, Jon Mankell
Written by Sjón, Valdimar Jóhannsson
Starring Noomi Rapace, Hilmir Snær Guðnason, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson
Cinematography : Eli Arenson
Edited by Agnieszka Glinska
Music by Þórarinn Guðnason
Production companies: Go to Sheep, Boom Films, Black Spark Prods, Madants/NEM Corp, Film i Väst, Chimney Sweden, Chimney Poland, Rabbit Hole Prods.
Distributed by A24 (North America), 
Release date : 13 July 2021 (Cannes), 24 September 2021 (Iceland), October 8, 2021 (United States), December 29, 2021 (France)
Running time : 106 minutes

Seen on October 31, 2021

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