Thursday, April 2, 2020

She's growing tired of life in the cult

Say this: Polish director Malgorzata Suzumowska knows how to create a mood. In The Other Lamb, Suzumowska tells the story of a small cult in which a group of women follow the lead of a figure known as Shepherd (Michiel Huisman). It doesn't take long to realize that Huisman's character -- despite a physical resemblance to a stereotypical western Jesus -- is anything but a "good" shepherd. He tyrannizes the women, emphasizes their "impurity" and violates them sexually. The cult consists of two groups of women: Wives and daughters. When daughters begin to menstruate, Shepherd initiates them into the world of childbearing -- with him as the incestuous father. In this world, only females are allowed to survive. A movie such as The Other Lamb needs at least one character to undergo a change of consciousness. In this case, the job falls to Selah (Raffey Cassidy), a teenager who gradually awakens to the reality of her oppressive situation with help from a wife (Denise Gough) who has been shunned and tormented. Ousted from their first home by the police, the group wanders in search of a new dwelling. You know where all of this is headed. Suzumowska scores high on atmospherics and imagery but the story takes us nowhere we haven't been before. The film, by the way, marks the director's English-language debut. It might have seemed deeper and more mysterious had it been made in Polish with subtitles and not set in North America.

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