13 April 2019 | paul-allaer
Playful yet intense comedy-drama from Iceland
"Woman At War" (2018 release from Iceland; 104 min.) brings the story of Halla. As the movie opens, Halla in sabotaging the power lines nearby a Rio Tinte plant somewhere in Iceland, causing an overall power outage. The police are out looking for the perpetrator, and she manages to evade the police chopper, but just barely. Meanwhile back in her regular life, she is a community choir director. Then one day, she receives a letter that her adoption request from 4 years ago, finally has been approved: a little girl from Ukraine awaits her! But how can she reconcile this with her environmental activism? At this point we are less that 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this movie is a labor of love from writer-producer-director Benedikt Erlingsson. Here he brings us a playful yet intense comedy-drama involving an environmental activist who, in her mind, MUST make a stand against heavy industry that is committing crimes against humanity (in her mind). But what is it really? Environmental sabotage? or extremism? The movie benefits enormously from the charismatic lead performance of Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, in a dual role as both Halla and her (twin?) sister Asa. Also playing major character is the Icelandic outdoors, where much of the movie takes place. Definitely on my bucket list to visit one day! And then there is the music: the score plays out live on the screen, as in: the Icelandic band and the Ukraine choir are integral part of the movie. Very clever. The movie takes some unexpected turns in the last half hour, increasing the level of enjoyment even more. Just a few months ago, it was announced that Hollywood is going to remake this (starring Jodie Foster). Of course!
"Woman At War" premiered to great acclaim at last year's Cannes film festival, and finally made it to my art-house theater here in Cincinnati this weekend. I couldn't wait to see it. The Friday early evening screening where I saw this turned out to be a private screening, as I was literally the only person in the theater. A darn shame, if you ask me. This is a top-notch foreign comedy-drama that met and exceeded my already high expectations. I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.