WOMAN AT WAR

April 3 – 2PM + 7:30PM

Iceland/France/Ukraine, 2018 – Rated: PG – 100 minutes
Icelandic with English subtitles
Directed by Benedikt Erlingsson
Cast: Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Jóhann Sigurðarson, Juan Camilo Roman Estrada

As a follow-up to his 2013 film Of Horses and Men, director Benedikt Erlingsson delivers Iceland’s nominee submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards: Woman at War, a timely film that speaks to social issues with wit and warmth.

Halla (Halldora Geirhardsdottir in a bravura performance) is a choirmaster who loves her job. And, she’s just learned she’s been approved to adopt a child from a war-torn area in Ukraine, a longtime dream of hers. The only hitch is that Halla is also a terrorist — an eco-terrorist to be exact. The proliferation of heavy industry, urged on by unscrupulous politicians, has been ruining Iceland’s rugged landscape and she’s taken action. Dubbed the Mountain Woman, Halla soon becomes the scourge of the aluminum industry. She is determined to see things through… but she can’t help wondering, would it be more fulfilling to save hypothetical future lives or one actual life: the daughter she has yet to meet and may never if she’s apprehended. Erlingsson’s second feature drills deep into the inevitable dilemmas plaguing almost everyone committed to the greater good. And the political satire here is precise and rich.

It’s evident in the sleazy Fox News–style way the government demonizes Halla. At the same time, there’s a puckish, postmodernist sense of humour percolating though the film that suggests vintage Makavejev and Godard, or even Alain Tanner’s classic Jonah Who Will Be 25 In The Year 2000. A tiny jazz band follows Halla everywhere she goes — on rooftops, in remote fields, in the middle of a flood — sometimes joined by a cadre of singers in traditional Ukrainian dress. It’s a reminder that the revolution should be hopeful, not just gloom and doom. And it should come with cool music.

“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? Look no further than Woman at War.”
—Jay Weissberg