In The County, Rams writer/ director Grímur Hákonarson gives us another slice of rural Icelandic life in this stunning, heartbreaking and at times deliciously playful drama. Written by Hákonarson and with a stunning cinematography courtesy of Mart Taniel, the film tells the story of a woman’s solitary fight against corruption and injustice in her farming community.
Middle-aged couple Inga (Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir) and Reynir (Hinrik Ólafsson) run a small dairy fam in one of the most remote areas of Iceland. Recently, however, the couple have struggled to keep afloat amidst mounting debts and a powerful local cooperative breathing down their necks. For years the local farming co-op has had a say on where farmers can buy or sell their produce, leaving them almost with no profit ands unable to prosper.
When Reynir dies suddenly leaving huge debts and a lot of unanswered questions behind, Inga learns of the true nature of some of the work he did for local co-op boss Eyjólfur (Sigurður Sigurjónsson). With nothing left to lose, Inga decides to take on the all powerful cooperative in a reckless act of defiance. She plans on playing the co-op at its own game and setting up a new outfit to protect her interest and those of her fellow dairy farmers.
Hákonarson presents a genuinely engaging and beautifully precise film. He is brilliant at taking some of the most banal and quotidian tasks, and making them into something you can’t help but be consumed by. Valgeir Sigurdsson’s fantastic score too has a huge hand in making this so much more than another film set in a rural community. He mixes exquisite electronic sounds with those found around the farm to give us a beautiful atmospheric score.
Mixing a fair bit of melodrama and a certain degree of humour, Hákonarson is able to navigate a pretty solid screenplay with gusto and impressive precision. He tells a touching story of struggle and resilience without falling into the same old hackneyed tropes we’ve come to expect from similar stories.
Veteran stage and TV actor Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir gives a beautifully measured turn as a woman who uses her grief to rise above those who tried to humilate her and her family.
This is a beautifully executed and gorgeously depicted drama which isn’t afraid to go the extra mile in exposing some of the less orthodox dealings in small Icelandic rural communities. Grímur Hákonarson has done it again, he has taken a subject very foreign to most and made us truly care about it. Which, let’s face it, is no mean feat.