Benedikt Erlingsson's excellent debut is a boldly distinctive vision set in a quirky horse-riding community in the Icelandic countryside.
Kolbeinn loves Solveig and Solveig loves Kolbeinn but Kolbeinn is in love with his prized possession and darling, the mare Grána and Grána is obsessed with the stallion Brúnn. Spring is coming and the whole community is following the story. This cannot end well. Vernhardur is in love with vodka and the horse Jarpur loves Vernhardur, his master. Aboard a Russian trawler is a mate by the name of Gengis who doesn’t have vodka but loves horses like Jarpur. This not going to end well. Grimur has a passion for ancient horse roads but Egill admires barbed wire fences. Grimur owns a horse and a pair of pincers and Egill owns a tractor. This cannot end well. Johanna loves Raudka, her mare, but Raudka is in love with freedom. On the heath by an old summer cottage lies an injured old man. This could have a happy ending. Juan Camillo loves life and nature and is seeking God in the Icelandic highlands but the horse Old Piebald is tired and longs for rest. How will this end? Well, it all ends in the autumn when the horses are herded and men and horses become one great strand of excitement. The autumn round-up of the horses unifies theme, place, objects, time and characters into an ensemble film.
Flabbergasting images and a delightfully dry sense of humour make Of Horses and Men a debut worthy of celebration. Erlingsson reveals an astonishingly inventive eye and a sensitivity to the confluence of spirit between man and animal that’s impossible to capture in words, balancing desire and jealousy with the cycles of life and repping a boldly distinctive vision set in a quirky horse-riding community in the stunning Icelandic countryside. Iceland’s Oscar submission will be proudly trotted out.
A remarkable big screen debut, the absorbing and intriguing Icelandic film Of Horses and Men, which has been selected as Iceland’s nomination for the Foreign Language Oscar.Screen Daily