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