There was a period of time in Australian cinema where the funding bodies decided that the way forward was for Australian film-makers to make outrageous comedies. If you discussed the idea with them it would always come back to them talking about films like The Castle. The thing they seemed to miss though was that The Castle was a very different film to something like You And Your Stupid Mate.
While the latter was idiotic to the point of stupidity The Caste mixed comedy and drama and above all had heart. If you look at the comedies that Australians have loved over the years, films like Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert, they are all movies that have heart as their major ingredient.
Somewhere along the line it feels like somebody has listened because it clearly looks like Rams will be Australia’s highest grossing local product of 2020 and having viewed the film I can say that it uses The Castle recipe to a tee. It is a film that a majority of Australians can relate to and it does indeed have heart.
A localised remake of a Scandinavian film Rams is set in a remote Western Australian town that is known for its unique bloodline of award-winning sheep. While many of the town’s local farmers, such as the determined Angela (Ahser Keddie – X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and the kind-hearted Lionel (Wayne Blair – The Sapphires) try their best to win awards for their flocks the prizes normally go to brothers Colin (Sam Neil – Jurassic Park) and Les (Michael Caton – Last Cab To Darwin).
However the relationship between the two brothers is not as it should be. They haven’t spoken to each other for decades, despite the fact they share the same farm and dog, and go out of their way to avoid each other. That war though becomes tested after local vet Kat (Miranda Richardson – The Crying Game) detects a rare disease in the sheep that leads to them having to be destroyed.
With the Government moving in and the town and its major industry on its knees Colin and Les might have to find a way to overcome their anger towards each other to ensure that their farm survives.
Despite its Scandinavian heritage there is something uniquely Australian with director Jeremy Sims’ (Beneath Hill 60) version of the film. Aided by first time feature screenwriter Jules Duncan’s screenplay the film explores the trials and tribulations of a country community in such way that as audience member I found myself laughing at one moment and close to tears the next. That screenplay gives city folk an inside look at how devastating an event like this can be on a country town in a way that we rarely get to see on the screen.
While the film does try to infuse some storylines into the film for the periphery characters the main interest here lies in the relationship between Colin and Les and the betrayal Colin feels when Kat reports the outbreak to the Government. The tension generated between those relationships carry the film along in such a way that you never lose interest in it.
Enhancing the film even further are the performances of Neil and Caton. Caton is in award winning form as he portrays the emotionally broken and alcoholic Les, while Sam Neil is at his best portraying a character that is a mess of emotion throughout the film… not that he would ever show that publicly.
Rams is easily one of the best film of 2020. It has emotion, it has heart and knows the perfect time to replace its humour with touching dramatic scenes. Jeremy Sims has just released a film that is destined to become an Aussie favourite alongside Babe and The Castle.