A man, his dog and a flock of sheep are the focus of this small but powerful Spanish drama. The shepherd of the title is Anselmo (Miguel Martín), a mild, solitary middle-aged man, who lives with his hound in a shack on the outskirts of town. He is content with his life until a large construction company shows up asking to buy his land.
Anselmo has woken up every morning in his simple home for his entire life. Each day revolves around his sheep, dictated by routine – the camera pausing on a boiling pot of coffee, crumbs on the tablecloth, the bowl of peanuts Anselmo slowly eats every evening in the local bar. He’s positioned as a small figure on the straight and stretching horizon under an expanse of sky. The silence he exists in roars.
Anselmo’s rural world is elegant but harsh; nothing about this film is sentimental. When he tells the money men that he won’t sell, not because he doesn’t need the cash, but because he isn’t interested in money at all, two local goons are sent round to persuade him otherwise. For the most part ‘The Shepherd’ is restrained, a slow burner that takes its time mounting a sense of unease, before losing tack in the final act. Digging into financial pressures, greed and envy, this is a thoughtful study of what human beings are willing to do, and take from others.