In his new film Woman At War, Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses and Men) offers a funny, smart and thoroughly engaging story revolving around a woman’s solitary fight against the establishment in this politically charged drama comedy. Starring Halldóra Geirharõsdóttir (Sense8) and with a screenplay from Ólafur Egilsson and Benedikt Erlingsson, the film uses dry humour and a quirky style to tell an urgent tale about the importance of preserving Iceland’s natural beauty from the dangers of industrialism.
From the outside Halla (Geirharõsdóttir) leads a quiet and normal life as a respected choir conductor. In her spare time however, our heroine is a highly motivated and fierce eco-warrior who has been waging a singular war against a local aluminium factory by causing power cuts on regular sabotage missions. Known to others only by her alias ‘The Woman of the Mountain’, Halla soon has to choose between continuing her noble mission, and the prospect of becoming a mother when a letter arrives informing her that she has been given the go ahead to adopt a young Ukrainian orphan.
Erlingsson has given us a beautifully complex and hugely engaging story about the pressing subject of ecology. Using heavily coded signifiers, notably an out of context orchestra and a Ukrainian choir which follows the central character seemingly unnoticed by all, the director does a great job in marrying the absurd with the urgent to tell a pressing story or great importance.
As quirky and as annual as it is, Woman At War deals with themes of ecology in the most natural way. The dialogue is both rich, snappy and brilliantly well thought out. Elevated by some fantastic and breathtaking cinematography courtesy of Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson, you have one of the most underrated yet naturally stunning films of the year so far.
Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir gives an impressive performance as both Halla and her yoga teaching twin sister Asa. She not only gives a brilliantly physical turn, but she also exudes likability as both women. For bis part, Jóhann Sigurðarson shines as farmer Sveinbjörn with whom Halla find an instant affinity as they form an instant bond over a common cause.
Overall Woman At War is unlike anything you are likely to have seen before, it is fresh, unusual and beautifully well devised. Erlingsson and his main protagonist have put both heart and soul into this most unusual of stories and the results are truly phenomenal. Genuinely thrilling throughout.
Woman At War is in selected cinema courtesy of Picturehouse Entertainment