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Critics Review
Lamb review: Valdimar Jóhannsson’s horror drama touches the heart while questioning its characters

Valdimar Jóhannsson’s debut feature film, which also has Béla Tarr as executive producer premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival

3.5
Akshay Krishna
Nov 23, 2021
cover image

Story:

A farming couple who live in a secluded part of the country rearing sheeps are hit by a surprise, after a lamb is born. The miracle baby is soon taken care of as their own child, as she finds her way in life. 

Review: 

In this beautifully told surreal horror thriller, María (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snær Guðnason) are a childless couple that live a simple and quiet life rearing sheeps and farming, under the backdrop of some scenic misty mountains. One day like any other, a sheep delivers a lamb that takes the couple by shock and is later taken care of as if it were their own child. It is soon revealed that the lamb is a miracle, a form that would have the audience in gasp and awe. 

One of the most appealing part about Lamb is the reveal, which is followed by a sense of doubt in the mind of the audience, who will eventually go from shock and surprise to love and a few smiles courtesy of the lamb that is said to be “A gift” and “a miracle” by the childless family. 

As the filmmaker takes the viewers for a mellow ride through the family, their dynamics and their love, the movie also adds a beautiful touch of suspense which is carried out by an eerie sound, figure and a haunting and ghastly background score. The start to this added element of horror is from the beginning of the movie where we are treated to a beautiful show of horses and sheeps across a chilly and windy misty mountain top. 

Lamb also takes the viewer on a ride of evaluation of the character, both humans and other animals that are shown in the movie. From the loyal and lively domestic dog to the original mother sheep who birthed the lamb to Maria, who has taken away a lamb from her mother. While we do not question Maria’s actions at first, some wrenching moments from the mother sheep, who seems to be an expert actor herself, puts a dilemma over to the viewer. What could be deemed as selfish needs at first then takes a few darker steps down the road. 

Lamb is not only an expertly written story that is surreal to say the least, it is also technically spell bounding. From the first shot to the last, the camera work more than compliments the unbelievable scenic beauty of where the movie is set. The music is also characteristic, giving the movie the perfect amount of eerie and bizarre. While the lamb is not a version of Mary’s little lamb, she will find a way into everyone’s heart, while also leaving a dent. 

The deeper meaning of the movie can be dug into over and over again, including taking the scenario in the movie to what we as humans do on a regular basis in real life when it comes to separating a baby animal from its mother for our selfish needs.

Verdict:

 Lamb is a visual treat that conveys well to the nature of the movie while also adding layers of emotions, doubts, all the while making us question the methods and decisions made by the characters in the story. 


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