“Lamb” is beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, and deeply unsettling
Directed by: Ross Partridge
David Lamb (Partridge), reeling from the loss of both his father and his marriage, forms an unlikely (and uncomfortable) friendship with Tommie (Laurence) an 11 year old girl. The two meet in a run down parking lot, in Chicago, when Tommie’s friends dare her to bum a cigarette from David. David comes up with the idea of “Teaching her friends a lesson”, by fake kidnapping Tommie. Over the course of the following few days, David and Tommie begin to form a deep friendship that walks the line between sweet and predatory. When David learns that Tommie’s parents (Lindsay Pulsipher and Scoot McNairy) pay little to no attention to her, he pitches her the idea of going on a trip with him to his late Father’s cabin retreat.
This film was intelligent, thought-provoking, and more than a little emotionally exhausting. Partridge and Laurence are amazing, both portraying lost souls who are trying to find something to make them feel like they have a place in the world. Partridge also shows his writing and directing prowess, by crafting a tale that makes it’s audience wrestle with how they feel about the situation being presented. David appears to be a flawed but kind man who’s motives, although misguided, are on some level pure. He seems to see some of himself in his young charge, and thus he is determined to impart his wisdom on her and make her realize that she is special. With all of that said, the fact that David abducted a child and put them both in a situation that is both illegal and extremely frowned upon by society has the alarms in the viewers head blaring at all times. There are a few moments in particular that made me begin to fear that David was not as benevolent as he first seemed. the film is crafty though in it’s refusal to either condemn or forgive his actions. Even the protagonists themselves are acutely aware that what they are doing is abnormal and could cause an immense amount of trouble for both of them if they are discovered.
For better or worse, I love it when a movie makes me feel something. The stronger the feeling the better. “Lamb” made me feel a lot of things, and I was really impressed by it’s effectiveness. The two lead performances are surely what catapult “Lamb” from a deep character study to a powerful film that will linger in my mind for some time, and is a strong statement from a relatively new filmmaker. “Lamb” is a splendid piece of controversial film making, and I highly recommend it.