A Trip No Young Person Should Take In 'Lamb'

Jan 8, 2016

In an early scene in the deeply unsettling Lamb, protagonist Daniel Lamb phones a co-worker he's been having an affair with. "My wife is downstairs," he whispers. Not true—he's calling from a motel, where his wife has presumably banished him. "I'm lying here naked," he then purrs. Not true, either. Daniel has a propensity for fashioning his own truth out of whole cloth, which is not a quality likely to endear him to anyone. And after encountering a precocious adolescent girl in a parking lot, he pushes himself permanently out of the realm of sympathy.

I'm not sure why this happened, but as I assembled this year's best-of list, I kept seeing matched sets: Two terrific desert movies, two swoon-inducing romances, two single-minded crusades by men who think they're already dead, and even a pair of riveting mortgage crisis flicks (and what are the chances of that?). The doubleness is a good organizing principle, since my 10-best list nearly always turns into a 20-best — so here goes:

1965. It had been seven years since Orson Welles directed Touch of Evil, more than 20 years since Citizen Kane, so a lot of people thought he was washed up when he shopped around a project he had created by blending bits and pieces of five plays by Shakespeare.

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