In 'Rams,' 2 Icelandic Brothers Tend Troubles Of Flock And Family Gummi and Kiddi are two sheep-herding brothers who've spent a lifetime butting heads near the top of the world. When a disease threatens their flocks, they must overcome decades of estrangement.
NPR logo

In 'Rams,' 2 Icelandic Brothers Tend Troubles Of Flock And Family

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/465745339/465748327" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
In 'Rams,' 2 Icelandic Brothers Tend Troubles Of Flock And Family

Review

Movie Reviews

In 'Rams,' 2 Icelandic Brothers Tend Troubles Of Flock And Family

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/465745339/465748327" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

A new movie came out this week called "Rams," and it has nothing to do with football. It's a story from Iceland which involves snow, sheep, sibling rivalry. Here's NPR Critic Bob Mondello.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Sheep herding brothers Gummi and Kiddi Bodvarsson live on neighboring farms in a remote valley in Iceland. Their barns are less than 100 yards apart. Their herds are bred from the same stock, and while tending them...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RAMS")

SIGUROUR SIGURJONSSON: (As Gummi, speaking Icelandic).

MONDELLO: ...The 60-something brothers are all but indistinguishable with shaggy, nearly identical gray-and-brown beards and thick, nearly identical grey-and-brown sweaters. Two peas in a pod, you might say, except that they have not spoken to each other for four decades. So when a local best ram competition ends in a virtual tie and Gummi's ram takes second-place while Kiddi's takes first...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RAMS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character, speaking Icelandic).

(APPLAUSE)

MONDELLO: ...There is some hard feelings. And when Gummi voices suspicions a few days later that his brother's winning ram has an incurable virus - sort of the sheep equivalent of mad cow disease - there is harder feeling, expressed at least partly nonverbally in the middle of the night.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RAMS")

THEODOR JULIUSSON: (As Kiddi, speaking Icelandic).

MONDELLO: Up to this point, director Grimur Hakonarson has been playing quite a bit of this for comedy, but things turn darker when it turns out Gummi is right. The local vet confirms that Kiddi's ram is infected. And because the virus is both contagious and fatal, the authorities decree that all of the sheep in both of their herds - in fact, all of the sheep in the valley - must be slaughtered. This is a tragedy for these men. They love their herds and come up with differently sneaky ways to try to avoid that edict. One of those ways provides the film with a conclusion that might have been imported from Norse legend. The director, who has mostly made documentaries before "Rams," is working with two of Iceland's most distinguished actors here - actors who are ironically so persuasive as sheepherders, it feels at times as if "Rams" is itself a documentary rather than a spare, simply-shot drama, a drama that offers a portrait of dedication and alienation and of an unspoken, honored-entirely-in-the-breach bond by brothers who've spent a lifetime butting heads near the top of the world. I'm Bob Mondello.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.