(director/writer: Grimur Hakonarson; cinematographer: Sturla Brandth Graylen; editor: Kristján Loðmfjörð; music: Atli Örvarsson; cast: Sigurdur Sigurjonsson (Gummi), Theodor Juliusson (Kiddi), Charlotte Boving (Katrin), Gunnar Jonsson (Grimur), Porleifur Einarsson (Sindri), Sveinn Olafur Gunnarsson (Bjarni), Jon Benonysson (Runolfur); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Grímar Jónsson; Cohen Media Group; 2015-Iceland-Icelandic with English subtitles)
“Plays out as a droll comedy that held my attention throughout.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Icelandic documentarian director Grimur Hakonarson (“A Pure Heart”/”Summerland”) helms and writes this offbeat, pleasing and poignant but simple drama about estranged Icelandic sheepfarmer brothers and neighbors who have not talked for the last 40 years, Gummi (Sigur Sigurjonsson) and Kiddi (Theodor Juliusson).
It’s set in a secluded bleak valley in the north of Iceland. where the hardworking, lonely, unmarried elderly brothers live next to each other and both raise their prestigious ancestral sheep-stock. At a local ram competition Kiddi’s sheep narrowly wins the coveted top prize from his brother. After the competition the more rational Gummi spots his more volatile brother’s best sheep might have the lethal scrapie disease, an incurable infection of the brain disease, and reports it to the authorities. They confirm it, and as a result all the sheep in the valley must be destroyed and the sheepfarmers must clean their place and not stock any sheep for at least two years. Taking away sheep from the community means almost financial ruin for most and most leave to do something else. How Gummi and Kiddi, who remain, handle the bad news becomes the focus of this intense relationship film that plays out as a droll comedy that held my attention throughout.
The last shot of the brothers reconciling in the snow atop a high mountain is both tender and unforgettable–one for the heart. The highly regarded unique film won the Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2015.
REVIEWED ON 9/19/2017 GRADE: B+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/