RAMS (Hrútar) [2015]


Directed by Grímur Hákonarson

Written by Grímur Hákonarson

Starring: Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Theodór Júlíusson, Charlotte Bøving

This film played at a Scandinavian film festival last year and I was angry that I missed it, as I had read high praise from seemingly every critic. I kept it on my radar, and it finally hit our screens not long ago. I even persuaded a friend to come along, despite the simple plot that would surely put off a lot of people. This has also been labelled a comedy, which just is not true, and led my friend astray. He was expecting a bucket of laughs, and while there are a few understated funny moments, they are few and far between. This is a drama, and despite the short running time and simple story, it manages to be incredibly moving on many levels, while looking spectacular thanks to the incredible landscape of Iceland.


Two brothers, Gummi and Kiddi, live next to each other, sharing a prized stock of sheep and rams. Despite living next to each other and being siblings, the two haven’t spoken for 40 years. We never find out why, which I thought was a good move on the director’s part, as it allows us to focus on what is happening in the present. We soon learn the extent that these two brothers will go to just to avoid speaking to each other; early in the film a local competition is held, judging the rams of each local farmer. Despite finishing first and second, split by only half a point, the two don’t acknowledge each others’ presence in any way, instead going back to their table of friends. After the competition, Gummi, the main character of the film, decides that the winner of the competition, his brother’s prized ram, was showing signs of an infectious disease known as scrapies. At first it seems that Gummi is a sore loser, acting in a passive-aggressive way towards his brother. But the disease is confirmed, and all the farmers in the area are ordered to cull their entire herd.


While extremely hesitant at first, this forces the two brothers to actually interact with each other, and each time they do, it is memorable. Having not spoken to each other for so long, we see how hard it is for both men to start any sort of dialogue. Being forced to cull their prized herd, it soon becomes obvious just how much these farmers love their sheep. While losing them will affect both men’s lives economically, the film doesn’t firmly establish this, instead focusing on the love these farmers have for their sheep. I was reminded more than once of the strong bond I have with my dog, such is the power of this film. Another aspect that really helped is the extremely expressive face of Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson), who is analysed closely in many scenes. His face says so much, words are often not needed.


The final act capitalises on the strained relationship of the two brothers, culminating in a final scene that almost had me in tears. I said to my friend when it finished,5.5 beer - no beer top “I never thought I would be so moved by a film about sheep”, but he unfortunately had been looking for comedy and didn’t find much, and was therefore disappointed. A ‘marvel of deadpan comedy’ this is not; I’m not sure how anyone could come to such a conclusion. Rams is a stirring drama that deals with unconditional love, whether it be for a sibling or a farmer’s sheep, with a few funny moments that I could count on one hand. After it finished I found myself thinking what could possibly happen for me to not speak to my sister for 40 years, and I came up empty. Regardless of its simplicity, it is an immediately intriguing premise that provides the backbone for one of the most moving films I have ever seen.

Half a beer short of a sixer





18 Comments on “RAMS (Hrútar) [2015]

    • Thanks Marta 🙂 I thought all the hype and awards was a bit over the top for a film about sheep, but its about so much more than that. This will be one of my faves of the year for sure

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, it was a tough story to pull off, and thanks to some tight editing it really works, barely going over 90 minutes. Its bloody good! 🙂


    • That is a pretty apt description. It is certainly odd, its nothing like popular movies, but not pretentious or anything like that either.


  1. Excellent – glad you liked it. At the moment this is actually my second favourite film of 2016 (after Spotlight, which was 2015 almost everywhere else anyway). Found it really moving, like you, particularly the end, and it’s so well acted. Unfortunately Icelandic + sheep is a hard sell to the majority of cinemagoers, but hopefully more people will try and catch it as the word spreads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeah it is a hard sell, though I was happy to find our screening about 2/3 full. Almost everyone was 30 years older than me!

      This has been the third best film for me after Son of Saul and The Witch. I haven’t seen Room yet though. Spotlight would maybe be my fourth of the year, it also was also a 2016 release here (along with almost every Oscar contender). I even got a nice poster 😀


      • Man I should go and see Son of Saul…it’s out here this weekend, I think, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s been a crazy few weeks here for new releases and I haven’t seen half of the films I want to. Ah well.
        Good to hear your screening was full. Maybe I’m being a bit disingenuous about cinemagoers generally – there are usually enough fans of this kind of thing once it gets on the international circuit (being picked for Cannes helps, of course).


  2. Kinda on your friends side here.. they marketed this film in trailers as a comedy.. it was not a comedy.. though it could have been made as such..it def. wasn’t. As it was, I didn’t hate it, but def. not as moved as you were. I was expecting so much more.


  3. Great review. Sounds really interesting. I heard about this when it won Un Certain Reard at Cannes last year. Will be looking to check it out if I can


  4. You always review the most interesting movies!! This actually sounds brilliant. Made me fleetingly think of Black Philip too 😉


    • Black Philip?

      This is a great movie if you appreciate nuance and character driven films. It really made me think…. what could ever happen for two brothers to not talk to each other for 40 years?!


  5. Pingback: TOP TEN FILMS OF 2016 | epileptic moondancer

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