Sam Neill is on a one-man mission to make social media a better place. The Kiwi actor is always posting heartwarming updates about the various chooks, pigs and other animals that roam around his Two Paddocks vineyards in New Zealand. So it seems appropriate to see him as a rough-around-the-edges sheep farmer in Rams, a film set in rural Oz.
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Neill’s gruff Col has been feuding with his choleric brother Les (a whiskery Michael Caton) for four decades, despite the fact they live side by side on the family farmland.
At first glance, it looks like Rams might play out as the broadest of rural comedies: we are introduced to the Grimurson brothers as they warily pit their prize rams against each other in an annual competition that involves assessing thick fleeces and shiny horns.
But while there are moments of raunchy verbal wit and the occasional bit of physical humour, Rams slowly reveals itself to be a surprisingly thoughtful character study, deeply invested in exploring ideas of old-fashioned masculinity, self-imposed loneliness and the emotional rigours of raising livestock.