Thursday, August 14, 2014

#1,459. The Last Farm (2004)

Directed By: Rúnar Rúnarsson

Starring: Ólafía Hrönn Jónsdóttir, Jón Sigurbjörnsson, Sigurður Skúlason

Trivia: This movie won the award for Best Film at the 2005 Tehran Short Film Festival

An Academy Award-nominated short film from Iceland, writer / director Rúnar Rúnarsson ‘s The Last Farm is a dark yet beautiful movie about an elderly farmer who chooses love over life.

Now in the twilight of his years, Hrafn (Jón Sigurbjörnsson) tells his adult daughter Lilja (Ólafía Hrönn Jónsdóttir) that he and her mother, his wife Gróa (Kristjana Vagnsdottir), are ready to leave their remote farmhouse and settle down in a retirement community. Unbeknownst to Lilja, her mother has already died, and Hrafn, unable to cope with the loss of his wife, has no intention of continuing on without her. After telling Lilja not to come visit him until the weekend is over, Hrafn sets in motion a plan to ensure he and Gróa will be together… forever.

Shot at an abandoned farmhouse in the picturesque Westfjords of Iceland, The Last Farm contains very little dialogue; aside from a phone conversation with Lilja and a visit from Jons (Sigurður Skúlason), the local delivery man, most of the movie plays out in silence. Yet in that quiet, Sigurbjörnsson gives a remarkably deep performance, capturing in equal parts his characters determination (more than half the film is dedicated to Hrafn working diligently on his farm, preparing for what’s to come and exerting himself to such a degree that, at one point, he nearly passes out) and his loneliness (at night, he lies next to his deceased wife, who is still in their bed, and in his eyes we see the grief that is consuming him). Playing a man who doesn’t easily express his emotions (during the phone call with Lilja, Hrafn asks to speak to his granddaughter for what is possibly the last time, showing no disappointment whatsoever when he learns she’s not at home), Sigurbjörnsson manages to convey, ever so subtly, his character’s fears, as well as the love that now controls his every waking moment.

A bleak motion picture, The Last Farm is certainly not a pick-me-up, nor is it particularly original (there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before). What it is, though, is a well-acted film telling a simple but poignant story, and even if it doesn’t make you smile at the end, I believe you’ll be happy you saw it.

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