Grimur Hakonarson

7.1 Hrutar/ Rams (2015)

Grimur Hakonarson (Iceland, 1977), formerly a documentarian, debuted with Summerland (2010).

Hrutar/ Rams (2015) is a domestic drama that becomes a suspense thriller. The setting is a primitive society where primal emotions rule. Too bad that the ending is a bit too Hollywood-ian and inconclusive.

Two farmhouses lie isolated in a rural landscape. Each one is the home of a sheep farmer. The first one, Gummi, is shown hugging his favorite sheep. The other one, Kiddi, is taking care of his own farm. They share a gate. When Kiddi opens it, Gummi drives by without talking to Kiddi. They are heading for the same place: a context for best ram. The man in charge reads a poem about sheep and then lets the veterinarian pick the winner: Kiddi's ram. Gummi is second, very disappointed. Later Gummi examines Kiddi's ram and realizes that it is infected with scrapie. Gummi informs the veterinarian. During the night Kiddi grabs a gun and shoots at Gummi's window, convinced that Gummi is simply being a sore loser. The following day Gummi writes an invoice asking Kiddi to pay for the window and sends the invoice using their dog. The authorities test all sheep of the valley and found that too many are infected: they all must be exterminated. All the farmers accept the verdict, knowing that it is the only way to get rid of the disease. Kiddi is the lone dissenting voice. The authorities ask in vain Gummi to intercede: Gummi and Kiddi have not spoken for 40 years. Gummi personally kills all of his sheep and cleans the barn, and then cries bitterly. His brother is arrested because he keeps resisting the order (Gummi watches the scene with binoculars). The government pays the farmers some compensation for the loss. Kiddi, still furious, assaults Gummi. Gummi has actually saved some sheep and hides them in the basement. It snows. A young man who works with the veterinarian finds Kiddi lying drunk in the snow and brings him to Gummi's place. Gummi tells him that it has happened before. They undressed the unconscious Kiddi and drop him in the bathtub. Gummi tells the young man that they have been single men all their lives because there are very few women in that region. At a meeting of the farmers a couple announces that they decided to leave because they are broke. Kiddi still resists. The authorities discover that the land is entirely in Gummi's name: Gummi explains that their father didn't like the alcoholic Kiddi and left everything to Gummi but Gummi promised his mother that he would let Kiddi live in the farm. The authorities remind Gummi that he is legally responsible for what happens on the farm, and therefore for the fact that Kiddi has not killed his sheep. Gummi sends a letter to Kiddi using again their dog in which he tells Kiddi that he must kill the sheep. Kiddi refuses but one morning Gummi finds him again drunk unconscious in the snow. This time he loads the body in the snow plower, drives to town and dumps the body in the driveway of the hospital. While his brother is being revived at the hospital, Gummi kills Kiddi's sheep and cleans up Kiddi's barn. When Kiddi returns, he finds all the sheep gone, but he spies Gummi and realizes that Gummi has hidden a few sheep in his basement. When they meet, Kiddi let Gummi know that he knows. Gummi arms himself and mounts guard to the basement, where the ram is impregnating the sheep. However, Kiddi is suddenly friendly towards his hated brother. The young man comes to use Gummi's restroom and hears sheep noise. Gummi realizes that the authorities will soon come to take his sheep. He walks to Kiddi's farm and asks him for help. Kiddi accepts to hide the sheep. When the authorizes arrive, they cannot find Gummi's sheep and Gummi refuses to speak to them. They organize a search to find and destroy the sheep. Kiddi takes the sheep out, knocks out the young man, and tells Gummi that their only hope is to take the sheep to the mountain. They get on Gummi's quad bike and start pushing the sheep away. Night falls and they are still pushing the sheep up the mountain, but a strong snow storm in the middle of the night kills their poject. Gummi almost freezes to death in the attempt to find the sheep in the storm. Kiddi saves him by digging an igloo and hugging him naked. The film ends with Kiddi hugging the unconscious Gummi, and we are not told if Gummi survives and if they ever find their sheep; but they certainly reconciled with each other in the desperate attempt to save their sheep from the authorities.
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