A moving meditation on the challenges of farm life in Sweden and a disturbing psychological exposé of how it is to struggle with an unchosen vocation, Ravens by Jens Assur is a haunting, visually stunning work. As an award-winning photographer, the director brings mesmerising Ansel Adams-style perfection to each frame, the imagery and solemness of the film reminding of the iconic Ingmar Bergman.
Every shot by cinematographer Jonas Alarik is a work of art, bucolic, showing nature moving, breathing and undulating with its own emotion; the stillness of a boy sitting amid an ethereal symphony of birdsong, or serenely walking through tall grasses, buried in them. This stark beauty contrasts with the harshness portrayed in farming life, a grittiness, the strenuous burden of toil and labour, an overwhelming stress that the farmer Agne (Reine Brynolfsson) is unable to manage. Cows are mysteriously found dead in far removed locations. One suspects this might have some connection with his landlord, who is trying to buy him out.
Well acted and magnificently composed Ravens is poignantly lovely but unsettling, contemplative but viscerally harsh; it is an affecting, powerful film.
Catherine Sedgwick, The Upcoming