Made in Iceland and inconceivable anywhere else this wryly observed winters tale about two obstinate bachelor farmers was the jury and audience favourite in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. In a spectacular, weather-swept valley, brothers Gummi and Kiddi are neighbours, sharing the family land and tending to their small flocks of sheep. Its 40 years since they spoke to one another. When communication cant be avoided, Kiddis dog trots between houses carrying their handwritten notes between his teeth. Kiddi is a boozer and brawler, a popular figure at community get-togethers, but its through the eyes of the gentle, sober-sided Gummi that we see him acting out. They both do love their sheep, though, so when their rare and precious stock is threatened by disease, theres every reason for them to set aside a lifetime of hostility. Surely? Director Grímur Hákonarson is a former documentarian with a strong kinship to these dogged old buggers, and his portrait is one of exasperated affection. Theres a tall-tale dimension to their feuding thats sometimes very funny, but Hákonarson taps into the elemental, leaving us with a tale that feels both folkloric and true.
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