Of Horses and Men (aka Hross í oss) review by Michelle Sommerville - Cinema Paradiso
‘Odd’, ‘confusing’, and ‘horses’. These were my first thoughts for Of Horses and Men. After watching the film, not much changed in my opinion. However, there were still elements that really attracted me, such as its short-story-esque narratives. It is also a foreign-language film with English subtitles, making it not everyone’s cup of tea.
Human relationships are hard enough, but when you experience the love for an animal, it is a whole other thing. Of Horses and Men is a combination of different stories that give us an insight into a handful of characters and their relationships with their horses. The stories interlock brilliantly, each exploring the events with a dark-comedic style.
Written and Directed by Benedikt Erlingsson (with a more extensive acting resume than his other works), Of Horses and Men contains witty and intelligent dialogue, with stories and characters that are entertaining.
Not only were the actors brilliant in their portrayals, but the horses were excellent. The latter were not merely props, but often were the main characters, and through whose eyes we viewed the human characters and events. It is interesting to note that the cast all knew how to ride and handle the horses, so all we see of them together is actually the cast and not doubles.
As both an aspiring novelist and filmmaker, I love that Erlingsson has found a way to combine the two in a way unlike we usually see. The film is made up of approximately six separate stories, all with similar themes, but allowing the individual characters to lead in different ways. There is one main story, but the way they all interact with each other is flawlessly done.
The scenery was beautiful and raw, with a true sense of realism. We don’t have the rolling green pastures that dazzle on camera, and instead are shown an expanse both stunning and daunting in its vast emptiness. The majority of the film takes place in the outdoors, and it is clear the connection to nature is also a big part of the characters.
One point I have to commend greatly, is the way Erlingsson introduced each new ‘chapter’. We see the reflection of the character in the eyes of the horses, and while we don’t really view the movie through their eyes, it is a creative way to begin each story.
I will give this warning: the film contains some very unpleasant moments. Not all are what I would call ‘necessary’, and bring down the overall enjoyment of the film.
Despite some of its flaws, the film has received overwhelmingly positive critic and audience reviews.
It is a comedy, drama, and romance all creatively rolled into one, without losing track of the characters and their individual storylines. I am not usually one to experiment too much with films, but that is definitely something this film challenges me to change. It is original, and a film you should add to your ‘must see’ list.