In Australia’s outback, there’s a silent war going on. With much gruffness and fuming going on, warring brothers Colin and Les (as played by Sam Neill and Michael Caton) rear sheep. However, these are not any kind of run-of-the-mill ba-lambs but prize-winning breeders descended from a much-prized bloodline. Yet, that all doesn’t matter a damn when the grim spectre of a rare and lethal illness suddenly threatens every sheep in the land. Under orders to cull their entire flocks, will this be the end of the road of Colin and Les’s dynasty? Or will they be able to put aside their differences and save both the herd and the day? Let’s find out.
… may not be the darker hued version that Grímur Hákonarson‘s was but it’s still worth a dusty step in the film’s Australian outback.
So, the first thing to understand about this movie is that it is a remake of the 2015 Icelandic comedy Rams by Grímur Hákonarson. Now, whilst I’m not a fan of down-the-line remakes, I suspected that there might be enough going on in this Aussie transplant to think that patient isn’t dead – and I was right.
Set in Australia whose lush, dramatic vistas automatically cry out for languid helicopter shots and wide format TV screens, Jeremy Sims‘s version of Rams has even more fertile pastures to graze upon, all of which can be put down to its casting. By bringing much of the same backwoods vibe from Taika Waititi’s Hunt For The Wilder People, Sam Neil has again returned to melt your heart. Instead this time he’s not the uncommunicative type. That’d be his on-screen brother Les as played by Michael Caton. Whereas Neil’s Colin is a thoughtful if a little tortured soul, Caton is the self-destructive type that lives beyond the barbwire fencing. Lounging around, falling down drunk and cursing every blade of grass that crosses him the wrong way, Caton’s performance as Les gives Sam Neil an easy time of it.
However, not to be outdone Sam Neil’s Colin has the awkward attentions of the local vet to contend with, in the form of Miranda Richardson. Yet, whilst the two of them twist around a will-they-won’t-they romance, a far more potent spectre awaits them in the second act. Spreading like wildfire through the farming region, a killer disease is decimating sheep herds at a rate and it falls to Richardson to deliver the fateful message. And this is where the movie’s comedic tone gives away to a much more dramatic one. This is because whilst the herding and off-screen slaughter of the region’s sheep is a traumatic necessity for the script, like Thomas Harris’s Clarice Starling, you’ll all too quickly yearn for the silence of the lambs.
Nevertheless, that’s not the fault of the film nor the filmmaker because the accent here was always on comedy-drama, and suffice to say there’s still plenty to be had in what follows afterwards. With bruised feelings and egos to match Rams becomes a quiet gem in its own right with which you could see in a gentle night.
From its hindquarters to its snout, this is quality entertainment albeit the second round for some who may have seen the original. -The reason for this? -Sam Neill. The mega wattage of goodness and gentle affability that he generates here like his small comic triumph in The Dish cannot be underestimated from the guy who drove to a spaceship to hell in Event Horizon.
So, get a wriggle on and check out Jeremy Sims‘s version of Rams today. It may not be the darker hued version that Grímur Hákonarson‘s was but it’s still worth a dusty step in the film’s Australian outback.