As a follow-up to his 2013 film Of Horses and Men, director Benedikt Erlingsson delivers the Cannes 2018 selection and Iceland’s nominee submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards Woman at War, a timely film that speaks to social awareness with wit and warmth.
Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) is a middle-aged choir director in a small town, popular amongst her neighbors and respected in the community. Unbeknownst to her fellow citizens, she is also an environmentalist vigilante who destroys power lines in an effort to preserve the beautiful local countryside. Deep in the trenches of her anonymous battle against industrialist destruction, Halla depends on the few solitary sources of support in her life: her identical twin sister Asa (also played by Geirharðsdóttir), a co-conspirator (Jorundur Ragnarsson, Rams) who keeps her updated on the movements of the government and a mysterious local farmer (Jóhann Sigurðarson). Just as Halla begins to ramp up her anti-industrial campaign efforts, she receives entirely unexpected news: an application she made years ago to adopt a child from Ukraine has finally been approved and she is about to become a mother.
Anchored by Geirharðsdóttir’s standout performance, Woman at War provides a breathtaking showcase for Iceland’s natural beauty; the surrounding landscapes are stunningly shot and provide a quick answer to the question of why one woman would take on an entire industrial complex to preserve them. Enveloped in spectacular camerawork, inventive sound design and genuinely moving performances, Woman at War reminds us that some things are worth fighting for.
“Is there anything rarer than an intelligent feel-good film that knows how to tackle urgent global issues with humor as well as a satisfying sense of justice? Erlingsson’s genius lies in how he puts it all together with such witty intelligence, arranging beautifully shot picaresque episodes around a central figure who lives the ideals of the heroes she has hanging on her wall, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.” (Jay Weissberg, Variety)
“Woman at War is a beautiful hoot.” (Steve Pond, The Wrap)
“Carried by a magnetic performance from Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir in a dual role, Benedikt Erlingsson’s enjoyable [film] is elevated by wryly idiosyncratic flourishes in its execution.” (Wendy Ide, Screen International)