Co-operatives date back as far as early human tribes where each person was allocated a specific job which benefitted the group as a whole. In many ways it’s the original socialism. In the modern (industrial) sense, they began in the nineteenth century in Britain and France, but soon spread across Europe and farther afield. However, their power has been continuously eroded (and sometimes corrupted) by capitalism. In The County, one woman must take on a mutual association.
Life consists of long punishing days and a constant financial struggle for dairy farmers Inga (Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir) and Reynir (Hinrik Ólafsson). When he dies in a suspicious car accident, her world threatens to come crashing down around her. With help from their local co-operative, the farm continues to operate but Inga begins to notice that something is awry. In order to keep afloat, she must take on the monopoly of the local society and persuade other people to join her.
The County is a rousing underdog tale which shows just what can be achieved when people are prepared to work together to tackle injustice. It works so well thanks to a brilliant breakthrough performance from Egilsdóttir, who embodies the wider struggle. Grímur Hákonarson’s film is full of the offbeat and dark Icelandic humour which worked so well in the award-winning Rams. The County is a deeply empathetic drama that champions social action for the greater good.
The County opens in US theatres and virtual cinemas from 30 April.