In the Australian countryside, farmers raise and compete for best ram in the local fair. After one ram shows signs of a deadly and highly contagious disease, the entire community is put at risk and must rally together to survive this massive hurdle. Two feuding brothers are the center of things and must find a way to make things work for their own survival.
Written by Jules Duncan, based on the film by Grímur Hákonarson, and directed by Jeremy Sims, Rams is a family drama centered around the lost of livelihood and all that entails in a community where the majority of its locals are involved in the same industry directly or indirectly. The film is indeed a remake, but that does not take anything from it here. The way the film is adapted to Australia and adds some of the local issues, such has forest fires, making it feel like a truly local story. Transposing the story from the Icelandic countryside to the Australian countryside along with local issues and traditions makes the film connect with its location is a way that works and makes it very much the director and writer’s own in their way.
What makes this film a must see are the performances. Sam Neill is the lead as Colin, a man who is shocked at first at what must be done and eventually goes through the stages of grief over the loss of his flock in his very own way. There is some serious silliness here and some emotions throughout and Neill shows that he is a master actor, giving the right performance for the part and keeping the viewer involved no matter what happens in the films. Playing his distant, yet next door, brother Les is Michael Caton who gives as strong of a performance with something in there that is just below the surface and adds greatly to this take on the part. The main cast here is fairly small and includes a dog and some sheep, so it’s clear that they live in a remote part of Australia, bringing the characters closer to each other and causing the cast to clearly connect with each other. The cast makes this film as it should be.
The film’s production design by Clayton Jauncey does fantastic work at setting up the desolate setting of the sheep farms and show how two farms can be so different yet so close to each other. The work put in here shows attention to detail and natural ability to make the sets look like they have been lived in. Whether found locations or built for the film, the way they are set up works for each scene we get to see. Supporting this is the cinematography by Steve Arnold who gives the film a mood throughout, subtly shifting it to match the needs of the story.
Rams is a film most won’t even think of watching, but they should. The acting from Sam Neill is stunning and Michael Craton supports his work with his own fantastic performance. The overall cast does great, nuanced work, creating a film that is easy to watch even with zero interest or knowledge in raising sheep and competing with rams.