Thursday, 18 February 2016

REVIEW - RAMS (GRIMUR HAKONARSON)


A wry character drama from Iceland, as gnarly as its terrain, and as warm as its weather is not. This is true situational comedy, in that its physical situation informs almost every aspect of its narrative content, including a generous supply of droll humour. Rams is a gentle film, keen on evoking a sense of familiarity in its dim, close interiors and richly picturesque landscape shots; it's a fundamentally tactile film, with a close bond with its climate, and Grimur Hakonarson deploys all of his artistic acumen to indelible effect. Most persuasive about Rams is the lack of overt persuasion: Hakonarson stresses little in his efforts to express a lot - a smart ploy, as his film's main thematic thrust is of repressed emotional intimacy, unspoken thoughts and feelings in close quarters, the stuff of silence and slight gestures. Perhaps he is even too liberal in this regard, as certain minor plot developments are dealt with in an unnecessarily opaque manner, and Hakonarson's strong sense of humour has already diluted the austerity of his form as director, and to welcome ends; Rams is best when it openly embraces its audience, rather than abandoning it in the blizzard. Speaking of which: the closing passage may be formulaic, but it ends this film on a note of real, earnest intimacy, an act of upending only achievable through a series of apparent contrivances, but one that places the entire film before it in a new, altogether more affecting light. You'll forgive it its few flaws - it's just too effective at what it aspires towards not to.