Director: Benedikt Erlingsson | 101 minutes | action, thriller, comedy, drama | Actors: Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Jóhann Sigurðarson, Juan Camillo Roman Estrada, Jörundur Ragnarsson, Helga Braga Jónsdóttir, Vala Kristin Eiriksdottir, Margaryta Hilska, Þórhildur Ingunn, Haraldur Stefansson
Iceland is a modern Western country with an almost mythological, inhospitable landscape. When music teacher Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) sets off with a bow and arrow to defuse high-voltage cables as an “eco-terrorist”, it looks like flight in time, a symbolic act of the gods. It becomes comical because it looks so hypothermic and the bow and arrow are performed like a kind of stage props, in nature that has been colonized by humans, but still overwhelms.
“Woman at War” was filmed as if it were a tundra sitcom – restrained Scandinavian. However, genre designation is actually pointless: Vikings will understand humor better, outsiders will be more likely to be captivated by wonder about the national character or the character of the company. Still, the film looks conventional and that hurts a bit, as if Benedikt Erlingsson (“Of Horses and Men”) is hesitant to make a completely unique film, and wants to connect with an audience.
Which audience? The arthouse crowd will surely come to see a film shown in Cannes that has been submitted for the Oscars, and feel-good – dryly funny eco-feel-good in this case, is a risk with such a serious subject. The tuned-up fanfare embedded as an organic soundtrack is a style element, as is Halla’s sister’s yoga class and the Mandela mask used by Halla. Erlingsson wants to jump on the “As it is in Heaven” train? Is it satire? Shouldn’t have been all.
The characters are also stylized. Even Hella remains a character from Tower C; protagonist Geirharðsdóttir looks like a dramatically gifted actress in a committed comedy, and that’s it. Story-wise, the film does not get off to a good start after a spectacular start, but it remains reasonably entertaining due to the situational structure. However, Erlingsson has taken too much freedom of choice to steer his film in an inescapable direction, so that the settlement only gives cerebral satisfaction.