Rams (2021) Review

Rams (2021)
South Australia. Likeable Colin (Sam Neill) and recalcitrant Les (Michael Caton) are two sheep-rearing brothers who haven’t spoken for four decades. But when incurable ovine disease OJD and brushfires sweep the region, will the feuding siblings put their differences aside to save their beloved animals?

by Ian Freer |
Published on
Release Date:

05 Feb 2021

Original Title:

Rams (2021)

Rams is a remake that comes from a different place than its predecessor, both literally and figuratively. Grimur Hákonarson’s 2015 originalwas set in the harsh wastelands of Iceland, a zero-degree black comedy of alienated farming brothers battling it out in local sheep competitions that feels like it is informed by the cold, hardscrabble world of its setting. Jeremy Sims’ update is set in the sun-kissed region of Mount Barker, South Australia, and the warmer climes and relaxed national identity make for a gentler, broader time.

It may lack the toughness of the original, but Jeremy Sims’ film is an easygoing, likeable comedy.

The set-up has survived the transposition intact. Two sheep- loving brothers, Colin (Sam Neill) and Les (Michael Caton), live on ranches right next to each other but have not spoken in 40 years. Colin is the amiable, sociable one who answers most questions with, “Righto,” and greets his sheep individually every morning ("You are beautiful, you are beautiful…"). Les is the polar opposite, an alcoholic fireball often found comatose in the blazing heat, yet always seems to deliver a prize-winning sheep. The plot-kicker comes when a fatal strain of sheep flu kills part of Les’ flock, throwing their livelihood into crisis, meaning some kind of reconciliation becomes imperative. And then there are the annual Christmas forest fires to contend with.

It may lack the toughness, subtleties and tonal fluidity of the original, but Jeremy Sims’ film is an easygoing, likeable comedy in that Antipodean mode, flitting between low-brow laughs (Neill herding sheep through his living room or delivering a passed-out Les to hospital via bulldozer), a half-baked romance (Miranda Richardson turns up as an English vet) and more dramatic stretches. Caton embodies (but doesn’t illuminate) his drunk, itinerant farmer, leaving Neill, himself a gentleman farmer and vineyard owner who makes you believe in Colin’s relationship to the earth, to carry the picture’s laughs and heart. In its own way, his air of understatement is about as close as Rams gets to the superior original.

Not as strong as the original, Rams is perhaps best described as a feature-length version of one of Sam Neill’s social media shorts; funny, a little bit rambling, winning. 
Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us