Empire (UK) - - ON SCREEN -

OUT 30 Septem­ber / CERT PG / 124 mins direc­tor Pema Tseden cast Shide Nyima, Yang­shik Tso LAMBS AREN’T OF­TEN piv­otal char­ac­ters in film noirs, but this cau­tion­ary Ti­betan tale is a no­table ex­cep­tion. Or­phaned, bot­tle-fed and shel­tered in a satchel, it sym­bol­ises the loss of in­no­cence of shep­herd Tharlo (Nyima), who falls for hair­dress­ing femme fa­tale Yangchuo (Tso) while in the nearby town hav­ing a photo taken for his ID. But there’s noth­ing re­motely sen­ti­men­tal about Pema Tseden’s sobering al­le­gory, as its ini­tial quaint comedy gives way to a harsh re­al­ity that is re­in­forced by Lu Songye’s static but metic­u­lously com­posed mono­chrome im­agery and Dukar Tserang’s dis­con­cert­ing sound mix. Nyima ex­cels as the Mao-spout­ing, pony-tailed loner, but it’s Tseden’s vis­ual and tonal con­trol that makes this story so com­pelling.

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