Lamb is an Icelandic fantasy drama film directed by debutant filmmaker Valdimar Johannsson. This film stars Noomi Rapace, who sits on the executive producer bench with veteran Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr. The film premieres at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, competing in the Un Certain Regard category. Lamb is also Iceland’s representative film at next year’s 94th Academy Awards. So how great is the movie?
Maria (Rapace) and Ingvar are a pair of ranchers who live in the interior of the mountains. Once upon a time, their ewe gave birth to a strange baby, which had the head of a sheep but the body of a human. Maria and Ingvar took care of the baby like their own and even named Ada, their late daughter. So the days went by, and Ada grew up to be a healthy and happy child.
This story, if in Java, reminds a lot of the folk tale, Timun Mas. A mother who is blessed with a child named Timun Mas comes from Buto Ijo. Timun Mas will be taken by Buto Ijo when he is a teenager. It’s too far to connect these two stories. The plot is absurd if we look at it literally. Lamb’s account, I don’t know exactly, whether it contains local myths or folklore, or is this just a symbol. There is a tiny hint of the film’s plot when in one scene, it shows a glimpse of a movie that Ingvar and Maria are watching. It’s not clear what film this is, but in the dialogue, they mention folklore. It could be, the story of this film is related to mythology.
Apart from the polemics above, the story itself runs slowly and intelligently plays with the audience’s adrenaline throughout the film. The plot is unpredictable and full of surprises. We will not be aware that the baby lamb’s start is an anomaly, not up to a third of the film’s duration. It certainly makes it intense when one more character enters the plot, and what turns out to be this figure is another surprise. One “terrible” provocation scene is when the uncle takes the boy away from home, and we too will know what happened. As it turned out, this was just one more surprise. One of the biggest surprises is the climax scene, which seems difficult for anyone to anticipate.
Some particular technical aspects support the plot itself. One obvious point is the setting with such a charming natural panorama. Complete with the most dominant attribute, namely the fog that strengthens the mystical feel of the film. Another one is the cinematography side, with a very measurable composition. Presentation of good pictures full of meaning sprinkled throughout the film. One related example was described above when Maria and Ingvar watched a movie. The film they watched was not shown in one frame, but only a quarter of it. Maybe this means that it only contains a quarter of the people’s stories? Lastly, of course, our most outstanding achievement goes to the cast, especially Rapace, who feels that the level of this film is dedicated to his character.
Lamb presents an extraordinary fantasy drama story that is absurd and provocative with the support of casting, cinematography and captivating set. So is this just a myth or a metaphor? Which one is true? Both could be true. If you look at the plot, this film is more about a mother who can’t escape the trauma of losing her daughter. Yes, many films have talked about this, but Lamb includes “a little” folklore here. The dominant nature throughout the film may also be the parable of the monster figure. Maria did a disgraceful act to force Ada to always be by her side. The universe always moves in its portion; if we violate it, of course, we will receive immeasurable consequences. Lamb is a rare special dish these days that can be difficult for many people to accept. Hopefully, this film can be well appreciated at the Academy Awards next year.