Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

dir Jeremy Sims
scr Jules Duncan
prd Janelle Landers, Aidan O'Bryan
with Sam Neill, Michael Caton, Miranda Richardson, Asher Keddie, Wayne Blair, Leon Ford, Will McNeill, Asher Yasbincek, Kipan Rothbury, Travis McMahon, Hayley McElhinney, Ella McCorry
release Aus 29.Oct.20,
UK 29.Jan.21
20/Australia 1h55

neill caton richardson
See also:
Rams (2015)

Is it streaming?

richardson, caton and neill
This warm-hearted remake of the 2015 Icelandic black comedy has an engaging pace, gently weaving dry Aussie wit into the story, along with some earthy emotions. Director Jeremy Sims keeps the narrative meandering along in a crowd-pleasing way, shifting between lively humour and darker situations. So the film feels a bit long and slow, but there's plenty going on around the edges to make it thoroughly enjoyable.
In Western Australia, Colin (Neill) tends to his beloved prize-winning sheep, while his brother Les (Caton) runs the ranch next door. But they haven't spoken since falling-out 40 years ago. Then local vet Kat (Richardson) confirms the presence of a highly infectious disease, and the entire region needs to slaughter the rare-breed flocks and decontaminate their farms. Both react strongly against the big-city official (Ford) sent to manage the situation, but Colin reluctantly complies, while Les resists. It'll take a lot more to get these brothers to talk to each other, or work together.
The script nicely captures the sense that these people have worked this land for generations, and this disease is obliterating their legacy. Colin and Les' grandfather built the barn using wood they milled themselves, and now it has to come down. So there's a wrenching sense of sadness as they face the horror of destroying everything, but it's tempered with some wonderfully gruff Australian humour along with gorgeous landscapes and an intriguing portrait of the history of this particular place.

Performances are relaxed and realistic, with a superbly understated turn from Neill as a man who knows what needs to be done but has no time for the idiot officials who haven't a clue about life here. There's vaguely romantic tension between him and the wonderful Richardson's no-nonsense Kat, which refreshingly never takes the usual path. And Caton brings a terrific rebellious streak to Les that plays into the brothers' ongoing feud and the fact that they're going to need each other now.

While the plot gyrations are rather pointed, as it takes another major event to get these brothers to face their past, there's a refreshing layer of prickly details in even the sweetest scenes. And there's a remarkable delicacy to the way the film approaches characters and relationships, allowing many of the larger ideas and feelings to remain unspoken. All of which makes this a likeable movie about cantankerous old men who are much more than they seem to be, even if they to do little aside from, yes, butt their heads.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 1.Feb.21

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