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The imminent dread of the narrative and the foreboding backdrops of the rugged Icelandic landscape merge into a dark, haunting, unforgettable fairy tale.

One of the most stunningly visual, evocative opening sequences I have seen in a long time sets the scene for a dark, haunting fairy tale in the engrossing Icelandic film Lamb.

Though director Valdimar Jóhannsson dug up the tale of a couple that fosters a half-sheep, half-human child out of his own imagination, it feels so steeped in classic Icelandic lore you are easily swept up in the underlying themes and morals Lamb touches upon.

The pace of the brooding, slowly unfolding film will perhaps be too glacial for some, but I found it a perfect match for the understated performances, the astute sense of imminent dread and the foreboding backdrops of the rugged Icelandic landscape. Lamb sags a little in its middle section, but then builds towards a magnificent third actthat highlights man's fraught relationship with a nature that has its own rules about giving joy and taking it away in an unforgiving heartbeat.

If any more evidence was needed for my admiration for Lamb, the picture's poignant final moments are still playing in a continuous loop in my mind, as only the best movies tend to do.

release: 2021

director: Valdimar Jóhannsson

starring: Noomi Rapace, Hilmir Snær Guðnason, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Ingvar Sigurdsson


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