Lamb: Like Lolita Without the Sex

RGB tiff image by MetisIP
RGB tiff image by MetisIP

Moving, strange, mythic, and beautiful, Lamb takes the novel of the same name by Bonnie Nadzam and crafts superior cinema that will have viewers talking for a long time.

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Viewed at a screening held at the Cinefamily in LA – with a robust q and a led by Mark and Jay Duplass, close friends with star and director Ross Partridge – Lamb evoked a hushed, palpable tension in the audience. Would the unthinkable happen? Would the balance tip?

Partridge plays 47-year-old David Lamb, dealing with the recent loss of his father, about to be divorced, holding his office-romance lover at bay. That’s the back story, but the tale being told is that of his unlikely relationship with 11-year-old Tommie (the brilliant Oona Lawrence.) Their friendship is based on mutual loneliness, on Tommie’s desire to be noticed – her mother and mom’s boyfriend are dismissive – and on David’s desire to…be a father figure? Brother? Reconnect with his own painfully lost childhood? Something darker?

Soon David invites her to join him on a trip out west to his family’s cabin, just for a few days. Tommie agrees, and a nerve-wracking but surfacely beautiful – and chaste – idyll occurs, interrupted when David’s girlfriend arrives for a surprise visit.

LAMB_Still4_Oona Laurence_Photo Cred Mel Eslyn

Both Lawrence and Partridge are riveting, and pity, loathe, fear, or be charmed by David, the film takes you on a ride right along with the characters, in a relationship which walks a very fine line indeed between platonic, profound love and emotional abuse.

The beautifully shot and acted film was filmed in just 18 days. Partridge discussed the making of the film and the role of Lamb. “When you put an 11-year-old and a 47-year-old man together on screen, you have to find deep psychological contexts. You play it as honest as possible with this crazy conflicted person that David is, but you don’t instantly judge the character. I was compelled to do the story,” he explains.

With a shoot that fast paced, Partridge had to just “trust the process. There was no time for playback.”

So was David’s relationship to Tommie ultimately good for the girl? “When rehearsing with Oona, I had to believe it was as an actor. The story is truly about two people who didn’t get the love they needed as children. For David, this is his last attempt to do something that in his mind, in his broken world, was seen as salvation.”

Lamb is available on VOD – watch it, and get ready to think about it, discuss it, and recommend it.

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  • Genie Davis; Photos courtesy of Brigade Marketing