Iceland’s Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses and Men) winningly mixes absurdist comedy and tense thriller, with Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir as a fearless eco-warrior, juggling environmental action and foster motherhood.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2018
Meet Halla, Icelandic superwoman in a woolly jumper. At 49 and single, she leads a full and satisfying life. She’s the popular conductor of an a capella choir, practices tai chi, swims laps, cycles everywhere – and unbeknownst to all bar a single tremulous accomplice, is saving the countryside from industrial pollution, one exploded pylon at a time. Dubbed the ‘Mountain Woman’ in the media, demonised as an economic spoiler by government spinners, she’s feeling the pressure when a letter arrives reminding her that four years earlier, supported by her twin sister, she applied to adopt a Ukrainian orphan.
Actress Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir makes Halla an engagingly formidable eco-justice warrior (and plays her twin as an equally dedicated activist – of the self) in this delightfully off-the-wall new film from Benedikt Erlingsson, director of Of Horses and Men. Funny – in the way Halla exploits the invisibility of middle-aged womanhood – suspenseful and as spectacular as any film shot in Iceland, Woman at War is further graced by the wittiest of musical soundtracks, performed by an Icelandic oompah band and Ukrainian vocal trio within the movie, standing by even as Halla aims her crossbow at pylons or scampers across the highlands, pursued by drones.
“Is there anything rarer than an intelligent feel-good film that knows how to tackle urgent global issues with humor as well as a satisfying sense of justice? Look no further than Woman at War, Benedikt Erlingsson’s gloriously Icelandic (for lack of a better adjective), near-perfect follow-up to Of Horses and Men.” — Jay Weissberg, Variety