When you think of sheep, Australia is probably not the first place you think of. But deep in the remote part of the country, there is an endangered breed of sheep, the Dorset Horn to be precise, being bred, the last of its bloodline, or so say the farmers in Rams. A comedy with equal part heart-breaking and heart-warming moments all centered around sheep, rams and the farmers that raise them is unexpectedly entertaining and, in some moments, rather thrilling.
In Mount Baker, Western Australia, brothers Colin and Les live side by side on their sheep farms, yet they haven’t spoken in decades. After a local competition, it is discovered that Les’ winning ram has contracted a deadly disease, causing the whole country to slaughter their sheep. But Colin secretly hides a few of his flock to save the rare breed from disappearing from the valley. This act of desperation might just the catalyst that brings these brothers back together.
Labelled as a ‘reimagining’ of the Icelandic film of the same name released in 2015, there are certainly a few changes throughout the story which either makes sense for the change of location or for the central characters, Les and Colin, themselves. One inclusion, the deadly bush fires that plague Australia is one element of the story that puts a very different perspective over the story, one that involves the community of Mount Baker more and also bringing to the forefront the devastating fire of last year that tore through the country. These are sobering moments, stepping away from the main sheep shenanigans, but don’t hinder the story at all.
As a comedy, the story does edge towards this genre but with such a bleak and rather saddening story about feuding brothers, a community at breaking point, and constant peril from the bush fires, the comedy is sparse but welcome. The desperate and sorrowful performance from Sam Neill is the stand out of the film, able to entertain with barely a few words spoken and managers to not fall into the ‘strong, silent farmer’ stereotype with flaws of his own.
There is something about sheep that has natural humour to them, maybe it’s the sound they make or their serine and blank expressions, but the way these farmers care for their animals is endearing and affectionate. There is no room for ridiculous outlandish humour which you would find in an American remake, director Jeremy Sims bring forward what was so delightfully odd from the original Icelandic film and gives it his own edge which is what you’d want from a remake.
Dir: Jeremy Sims
Prd: Janelle Landers, Aidan O’Bryan
Scr: Jules Duncan
Based on: Rams by Grímur Hákonarson
Cast: Sam Neill,
DoP: Steve Arnold, Michael Caton
Music: Anthony Partos
Runtime: 115 minutes
Signature Entertainment Presents Rams on Digital Platforms 5th February