Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
🎃(Halloween Movie Fest 2021)🎃
(Foreign language film - Icelandic)
When you try to change the course of the natural order of things ... be prepared for mother nature to bite back.
"Don't be such a god damn child ... It's you guys that are acting childish ... playing house with that animal."
Lamb walks a fine line between being the quietest, metaphoric, beautiful, provocative, and unsettling art film of the year ... or it could just come off as being totally ridiculous and dull. While I could not help but chuckle some at the wild premise they are holding our hand while introducing us to, I could not help but be completely intrigued by all the implications Lamb evokes.
(Quip of the Review - Can you imagine the nightmare fuel that cheesy 'Lamb Chop's Play-Along' show would have had if it was more like this.)
(Quick Hits) ... Spoilers:
- I heard the buzz ahead of time about this having a child humanoid lamb, but you have to see it for it to really sink in
- What ties it all together is the ominous atmosphere that it establishes as we get held on these long shots of our main couple Maria and Ingvar being these quiet isolated sheep farmers in Iceland
- They just go about their lives/business surrounded by the beautiful mountainous countryside, when one night they look bewildered by the sight of their newest baby sheep. Maria then quickly springs into action to nurture this sheep for some reason, and Ingvar does take to it after having a moment of grief alone in his tractor
- Eventually, we come to see that they have named the sheep Ada, and it is a creature with a sheep head and arm, and the rest of it appears to be human
- There are so many scenarios that stewed in my mind about what they could be going for here with this couple pretending that Ada is their daughter. It seems to suggest that while different things can come into your life and be accepted, that does not mean the origin of that difference will accept this choice that has been forced into existence
- I also thought about other possible concepts like the love people have for children compared to animals/pets. There is also the possible implications of subtle religious imagery going on here
"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."
- John 1:29
- I said 'forced' earlier because the creature's sheep mother does come and call out for it, but Maria eventually drags that sheep away and shoots her in the head
- We do get an outside perspective on the situation when Ingvar's 'black sheep' brother Pétur comes into the mix. He does not instantly comment, but eventually is like 'what the fuck is up with this sheep head thing????'
- It feels like Pétur is going to lead Ada away from the house to slaughter her, but instead he is overcome by the innocence of this creature and becomes her loving uncle
- Them going fishing reminded me of the end of 'The Godfather 2'
- Meanwhile, Ingvar begins to have nightmares of Ada being lost, and demonic sheep which foreshadows a looming dread that is coming
- Eventually, we are given the insight that Maria did have a human child named Ada that passed away
- The two bothers and Maria shouting and cheering about their favorite team's game on TV, is exactly how it is at my parent's house when we all come together to watch the Minnesota Vikings
- Another form of unnatural behavior comes into play when Pétur tries to sleep with his sister in-law, which causes her to send him away
- Then we get the shocking ending when we find out Ada actually has a humanoid ram father who fatally shoots Ingvar while he is out with Ada trying to fix the broken-down tractor
- Then the movie just ends as we see Maria consumed with grief after losing both Pétur and Ada
Lamb is a fascinating combination of quiet arthouse style, WTF moments, and possible metaphors to ponder. I would love to hear who also likes to think about movies like this, and who just could not buy into them throwing in these literal human-sheep hybrids into the mix.
Thanks for reading.
Happy spooky movie watching season ... Skål! 🍻