Film Review: Woman at War

Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. With well under half-a-million inhabitants, the Nordic nation is self-contained in many ways. Boasting volcanoes, mountains, geysers and glaciers, the sub-arctic island is both starkly beautiful and mercilessly unforgiving. Icelandic cinema often reflects this. The likes of Nói albinói, Rams and Of Horses and Men are examples of this rather unique outlook. Benedikt Erlingsson, who directed the latter, is back with a new film; Woman at War.

Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) is known to her friends as a quiet and upbeat choir leader. However, her seemingly unadventurous life covers up a dark secret. For Halla is ‘The Mountain Woman’, an eco-warrior who is waging a one-woman war on the local aluminium industry in order to protect the breathtaking rural landscape. When the chance to realise her dream of becoming a mother presents itself, she finds herself with a difficult decision to make.

Woman at War is an offbeat comedy drama about someone determined to make a difference in one way or another. Geirharðsdóttir is a force of nature. A one-woman tsunami, sweeping up everyone in her wake. She’s magnificent and relentless. Erlingsson ensures she’s accompanied by her own fanfare at all times. Woman at War is a delightful Nordic novelty. An important message wrapped up in a leftfield gem.

Woman at War is out in cinemas from 3 May.

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