Woman at War
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Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
From the opening scene—in which 50-ish Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir), choirmaster and stalwart of the community, uses a bow and arrow to destroy an electrical tower—you know you are in for a treat with this quirky, visually splendid work. Halla’s passionately enacted secret eco-warrior campaign against an energy corporation encroaching on Iceland’s impeccable landscape is decidedly at odds with her day-to-day life, doubly so now that she has received notice that the adoption she applied for some years back has been approved and a Ukrainian orphan is on the way. Can she reconcile motherhood and fighting the good fight, no matter the possible consequences of her crimes?
Director Benedikt Erlingsson, whose terrific debut, Of Horses and Men, was a highlight of VIFF 14, brings his skewed sense of humour and remarkable eye for the visually offbeat to bear on Halla’s dilemma. In an inspired touch, he even recruits a gaggle of musicians and singers to periodically serve as a Greek chorus for Halla’s journey, to charming effect…
"Delightful… Is there anything rarer than an intelligent feel-good film that knows how to tackle urgent global issues with humour as well as a satisfying sense of justice? Look no further than… Erlingsson’s gloriously Icelandic (for lack of a better adjective), near-perfect follow-up to Of Horses and Men… As he did with Erlingsson’s previous feature, [cinematographer] Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson again proves himself a master of capturing the tranquil beauty of the Icelandic landscape… and the joys of the unexpected."—Jay Weissberg, Variety