Woman at War

June 23, 20208:30pm

Filmed, like the director’s debut Of Horses and Men, by cinematographer Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson, Woman at War sets highland landscapes against home comforts, no-holds-barred environmentalist activism against inner peace, the ethos of earth mother versus the joys and responsibilities of mother-and-child. Erlingsson challenges us to juggle multiple realities at once, as his heroine Halla attempts to do. Thanks to a twin sister, accentuating and lending leeway to her dualities, she (and we) can just about manage it.

Erlingsson cites real-life environmentalists as inspirations, but he gives Halla’s story a mythical feel that he undercuts with mischievous delight. For all its theatricality, the action is also, literally, down-to-earth. An Amazonian archery scene is like something from Wonder Woman, except that the heroine sports a traditional lopapeysa jumper and is aiming at a pylon. A three-piece band pops up where least expected, like an ancient Greek chorus, and
plays oompah-style music. A keening Ukranian choir recalls Joan of Arc’s ethereal voices, miles away from Halla’s daytime job as chorus director.

Geirharðsdóttir conveys the ferocity of Halla’s engagement without eclipsing her humanity. Activism, she and Erlingsson could be saying, is not separatist, even if it some times requires a radical break from routine existence. Halla is defending the place of natural beauty in all our daily lives and striving to safeguard it for the next generation.

ʺCombining Paul Schrader’s dire urgency with Roy Andersson’s droll brand of despair — to cite two other filmmakers whose work has wrestled with the maddening, quixotic idea of a single person trying to redeem an entire planet — Erlingsson has created a winsome knick-knack of a movie that manages to reframe the 21st century’s signature crisis in a way that makes room for real heroism.ʺ David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Spins gold from several contemporary fixations … Erlingsson weaves a captivating dark comedy from urgent, quite chilling issues.’ Aimee Knight, Little White Lies.

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Film Information
Release year: 2018
Running time:   101 mins
Directed by: Benedikt Erlingsson
Language: Icelandic (English subtitles)
Country: Iceland
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Starring: Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir,
Jóhann Sigurðarson,
Juan Camillo Roman Estrada,
Jörundur Ragnarsson
Awards: Cannes screenwriting award and 24 other wins
More info:

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