Lamb

In theaters Oct. 8

THE PLOT:

A childless couple, María (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snær Gudnason), discover a mysterious newborn on their farm in Iceland. The unexpected prospect of family life brings them much joy, yet something sinister is brewing because of an aberration to the natural order of things.

LYNN’S TAKE:

A peculiar, yet cannily crafted, tale about messing with nature, “Lamb” is resolute in the bizarre world it portrays.

In his first feature film, writer-director Valdimar Jóhannsson moves the story slowly, resulting in an unsettling feeling that builds as plot points are divulged.

In a minimal, matter-of-fact way, the rhythms of every day life go on, although family life has taken a different direction for an earnest couple who operate a sheep farm in modern Iceland.

On an expansive, remote patch of land, they tend to the daily operations. Just as sure as fall brings a harvest, spring signals birth. While they are helping ewes deliver their lambs, one appears to have a human hand. Hmmm… (this is not a spoiler -- you see the lamb in the trailer).

The couple takes a unique approach to this freaky hybrid occurrence – Maria brings the lamb inside and raises it like an infant. They name her Ada. As the years progress, Ada walks like a toddler, in an upright position.

Apparently, the couple suffered the tragic loss of a child and are now substituting the lamb – a remarkable variety of puppets – as their ‘kid.’

Maria, obviously grieving, enjoys nurturing this ‘baby,’ which she looks upon as a gift. There are some issues raised – but quickly dropped – that are puzzling, so it’s not exactly a satisfying film – yet one is mesmerized.

Rapace, speaking her native Iceland here, is best known for “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” trilogy, and as an actress, she always seems to be hiding secrets, which adds to the creepiness.

Ingvar‘s ne’er-do-well brother Petur (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) arrives, and observes that no one mentions how odd this is. At first wary and taking an adversarial stance, the brother warms up to the creature and they ‘hang out.’

The movie has darker elements that emerge, and the director is stingy about dispensing information – but looking back, some clues were there from the start.

While not everyone will adjust to this tempo or unusual tone, “Lamb” is intriguing in its construction. At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, it won an award for originality.

Eli Arenson’s cinematography is impressive

Typically, Scandinavian films, often somber and sparse, will feature a darkness. You expect it. However, you don’t expect black humor, and you can find a few touches here. But mostly it’s an oddity that will occupy your thoughts long after you’ve gazed at pastures and snow-capped mountains.