Films that deal with uneasy relationships, such as Sundays and Cybele, can have a certain uncomfortable effect on audiences. Maybe they can't deal with stories about characters who have questionable interactions with other people, or that they are in denial about their own lives, but however you see it, these types of films do start conversations. Director Ross Partridge's 2015 film, Lamb, is one such film. Despite the film's unhealthy subject matter, it is more of a heartbreaking tale of two broken individuals finding each other at just the exact moment.
Partridge himself stars as David Lamb, a lonely and middle-aged man trying to come to terms with his crumbling life following the end of his marriage and the death of his father. One day he meets and connects with an neglected 11-year-old girl named Tommie, whose demons match his own. Determined to protect her from a life of hopelessness and regret, he takes her on a road trip to his father's cabin where he introduces her to the beauty of the wilderness. Over the course of their adventure, they openly discuss and contemplate the areas of their relationship, which proves to be quite a challenge considering David's self-delusions that he can actually teach her about the complications of life. Things get even more intense when his girlfriend shows up for an unexpected visit, causing a change of plans and forcing both David and Tommie to confront themselves and their past wounds.
Obviously, considering the dangerous plot of the film, there is bond to be controversy and negative reactions to the two central characters' relationship, but once you eventually get over that factor you'll see that this is a tender but ambiguous study of the lengths that people put themselves through in order to redeem themselves and everyone around them. I didn't read the book that the film was based on, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is a faithful adaptation that transcends the unsettling nature of a story that really does happen, whether we accept it or not.
Partridge's performance is a very tricky mix, where we feel sympathy for him feel as well as anger towards him. He does a really amazing job with his character, making us feel that David Lamb could be anyone of us, even if we can't bring ourselves to fully grasp our flaws. As wonderful as he is in the film, the real discovery is Oona Laurence as Tommie. Her performance is so disturbingly powerful, as if her character is a capable woman trapped in the body of an awkward youngster. Her expressive face and mannerisms are unlike anything I have ever witnessed before, especially from a child actor. It is a transformation that should and could bring her definite consideration, especially during the next awards season. The chemistry between the two of them is a sight to behold.
Bonus features include a commentary with Partridge and Laurence, deleted scenes, a landscape video, and a photo gallery. For a film this well-crafted and remarkable, I felt that there should have been more, especially about the making of the film and interviews with the cast and crew.
In closing this review, I think that this is one of the very best films of the year, and I truly enjoyed it. I hope that it gets more recognition and praise, because films that make you uncomfortable can also be those that you will never forget.