(director: Jeremy Sims; screenwriters: Jules Duncan/based on the Icelandic film by Grímur Hákonarson; cinematographer: Steve Arnold; editor: Marcus D’Arcy; music: Antony Partos; cast: Sam Neill (Colin), Miranda Richardson (Kat), Asher Keddie (Angela), Michael Caton (Les), Wayne Blair (Lionel), Kipan Rothbury (Frenchie), Travis McMahon (Fergo), Hayley McElhinney (May), Will McNeill (Jackson), Asher Yasbincek (Sally), Leon Ford (De Vries); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Janelle Landers, Aidan O’Bryan; A Samuel Goldwyn release; 2020-Australia)
“It’s a decent film (a great one for animal lovers).”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Aussie-actor-turned director Jeremy Sims (“Wayne”/”Last Cab to Darwin”) and screenwriter Jules Duncan offer this lesser but adequately made Aussie remake of the superb offbeat Icelandic indie rural drama about sheep farmers. It won best film in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes in 2015.
Two estranged brothers, neighbors, Les (Michael Caton) and Colin (Sam Neil), must set aside their differences when a rare and lethal illness threatens their respective sheep flocks in Western Australia. The brothers had a spat 40 years ago and haven’t spoken since.
Government officials order that every sheep in the area be slaughtered and no sheep breeding for two years. Colin, known for his prize-winning sheep, reacts by taking desperate measures to conform to the order, while Les looks on with disdain and defies the order. Both men, however, react strongly against the big-city official (Leon Ford) whose in charge of the situation.
This disease is destroying their legacy, taking away all that they worked so hard at for their entire life. Colin and Les’ grandfather got them started in this life and now their livelihood and way of life might be over leaves them both feeling crushed.
The performances of both men is engrossing. Neill is the more sensible, likeable and knowledgeable sheep breeder. He can probably fix the problem if allowed to, but has to obey the idiotic city officials who are clueless about how to deal with the situation. Caton is the rebel, who only gets on Neil’s nerves. As the feud continues, even though it becomes evident they will now need each other more than ever.
Miranda Richardson is their no-nonsense neighbor, the local vet, who is friends with both men but has a love interest in Neil.
The aging cantankerous brothers are eventually brought together by another event, and anger subsides and reason prevails in the beautiful valley (beautifully shot in and around Mount Barker in the Great Southern region of Western Australia) where they reside.
It’s a decent film (a great one for animal lovers), but it was already done as a classic and there was no need for a redo that adds nothing important but a few minor subplots.
REVIEWED ON 2/27/2021 GRADE: B-