A hardworking farmer begins to crack under the weight of his harsh daily existence and the indifference of his son to their traditional way of life, in Jens Assur’s debut feature.
Propelled by a stark, sometimes terrifying beauty that suggests a subarctic canvas by Georgia O'Keeffe, Jens Assur's supremely confident debut feature, Ravens, explores the trials faced by farmers desperately clinging to tradition in the face of social and technological change.
At the heart of the film is the relationship between a father, Agne, and his son, Klas. Agne fully expects Klas to take over the farm, which has been in the family for generations, but it's evident to almost everyone else that the son has no appetite for the harsh life eked out by his father and Gärd, his mother. His parents have imbued an almost religious significance to their hardscrabble existence, viewing their own sacrifices as a commitment so fundamental that it should lay claim to even future generations. As hardships (both economic and physical) mount, the pent-up, permanently infuriated Agne begins to question how he's spent his years and what it might mean if even his children don't want the livelihood he's devoted himself to.
Made with remarkable precision and an extraordinary eye for detail, Ravens has a force that evokes the best of the naturalists. An opening sequence where Agne tries to remove a large boulder from a field is utterly convincing, yet also suggests just how Sisyphean his work has become.
A modern tragedy dealing with pride and fear, told with equal amounts of empathy and shock, Ravens examines how we can embrace — and even become consumed by — the destinies we once shrank from.