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(Iceland): Ingvar and Maria are sheep ranchers who live an isolated life. The opening scenes, which are mostly silent and expansive, reinforce a sense of loneliness, and you feel an underlying sadness to the daily routine the two find themselves in. One day, they are aiding one of the sheep in giving birth, and there is something different about the lamb; we don’t know what it is, but the two quickly swaddle it and bring it into the house. Over the next months, the two raise it as their own child. The movie premise is very strange, but the story also works as one of a couple trying to make a new life in the context of loss. The cinematography and sound are wonderful, and the camera and dialog are carefully used to convey a sense of joy that has entered their world. Sometimes the music is like a fairy tale, and at other times it feels more like a horror film. The acting by the two, Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Guonason, is also wonderful and very convincing. The premise, which is ridiculous, works so well because the director takes it all completely seriously, and so did I, with some scenes that made me laugh. This film reminded me of one from a couple of years back called Border, another folktale that worked despite its unusual premise. Sometimes, there is nothing like a folk tale, a good story, to teach us about life. (2021; 4 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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