VOD film review: Rams (2020)
James R | On 07, Feb 2021
Director: Jeremy Sims
Cast: Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, Michael Caton
“You are beautiful, you are beautiful, you are beautiful…” That’s the sound of Colin (Sam Neill), a sheep farmer in Western Australia who greets every member of his flock individually. It’s an adorable morning ritual, one that tells us everything we need to know about the man: he’s loving, kind and cheerful, especially when it comes to his sheep.
The plot thickens when we see him lose in a local sheep-rearing contest to the withdrawn Les (Michael Caton) – a man who turns out to be his brother, although the two haven’t spoken properly in years. What could have driven apart who siblings who live on adjacent farms to one another? That dark mystery loomed at the heart the 2015 Icelandic film on which this is based – but there’s no risk of things getting chilly here. Where the original was a blackly funny, bleakly beautiful drama, this sun-drenched remake is a much warmer affair.
The plot is kept broadly the same by Jules Duncan’s script, as a sheep in Les’ flock is found to have a deadly disease – leading to urgent culling and quarantining of the herd, and all nearby livestock. In the original, that scenario put the brothers on a collision course that could have ended in a good way or a very bad way. Here, there’s never really any doubt that it’s headed for some kind of reconciliation.
If that saps the plot of a lot of suspense, it doesn’t detract from the quality of the performances. Michael Caton’s Les is a tad too reticent to really have an impact, but Sam Neill pours his grizzled charm into every inch of Colin’s bearded frame, and that wonderful charisma makes Rams a likeable watch; whether he’s talking to his sheep or local vet Kat (Miranda Richardson), he’s extremely pleasurable company. If you ever doubted that the word “righto” could carry a wide range of moods and feelings, Rams will certainly set you straight.
Director Jeremy Sims matches that sunny outlook with some gorgeous landscapes, resulting in a cheerfully entertaining, if undemanding, stroll through the countryside. In some ways, it’s nice to have a choice of Rams to suit you mood.