A movie review of “Of Horses and Men”: Various vignettes, set in ever-photogenic Iceland, revolve around mares, stallions and the many follies of their owners.

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Set among hearty horse owners in ever-photogenic Iceland, Benedikt Erlingsson’s dryly witty “Of Horses and Men” is like an animal documentary, but about people. Life revolves around mares and stallions in the film’s windswept terrain, but the animals’ orblike eyes direct us to the many follies of their owners, who are driven by petty desires and, occasionally, courage.

A crystal-clear close-up of a horse’s eye opens each of the film’s beaded vignettes, which take place in an old-fashioned but comfortable community. A gallant horseman, Kolbeinn (Ingvar E. Sigurdsson), suffers the gross public indignity of being astride a mare when a randy stallion approaches; a tippler swims out to a Russian ship to get drunk on 96-proof alcohol; a grinning Spanish-speaking tourist gets lost and faces death by freezing.

Erlingsson, an actor directing a brisk debut feature, doesn’t use these and other characters for deadpan jokes or lessons (except maybe that the horsewomen are the real go-getters of the bunch). He pushes ahead with efficient visuals, snappy transitions and a driving score split between cantering rhythms and choral hymns. All the same, it’s not quite apparent what these characters do besides go on roundups, get into quandaries and spy on one another.

Movie Review

‘Of Horses and Men,’ with Ingvar E. Sigurdsson, Charlotte Boving, Steinn Armann Magnusson. Written and directed by Benedikt Erlingsson. 81 minutes. In Icelandic, with English subtitles. Grand Illusion.

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The spirited turnover of the stories can’t conceal that the animals bear the brunt of their masters’ troubles (to the point of being killed out of pure vanity). But Erlingsson’s upbeat outlook suggests that generations of horses and men have coexisted and will continue to do so for centuries more.