Woman at War review – pylon-slayer faces adoption challenge in quirky Icelandic eco-drama

the Guardian | 5/12/2018 | Peter Bradshaw


The Icelandic actor-turned-director Benedikt Erlingsson achieved cult status with his tremendous 2013 film Of Horses and Men, in which horses were the facilitators and objects of passionate human love. Now he comes to the Critics Week sidebar of Cannes with this well-turned, well-tuned oddity, that brings Erlingsson’s career as a feature director to its Difficult Second Album moment. It is confidently and rather stylishly made, with the same eccentric poise that distinguished his equine success, and the same sweeping sense of landscape. There is a very good performance from Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir as Halla, a fortysomething choir conductor. Erlingsson shows a great flair for ideas, scenes, tableaux. But is it all encumbered with quirkiness? Is the quirk-imperative something that weighs it down?

It is spectacular, dangerous work. No one would suspect the mousy Halla, and the cops keep detaining a suspicious-looking male tourist. Halla is obviously passionately committed to a campaign that might end in electrocution, death or imprisonment – or in the hated corporate raiders being driven away from Iceland and Halla becoming a national heroine.

Day - Home - Letter - Authorities - Application

But then one day she comes home to find a letter from the authorities: her application to adopt an orphan Ukrainian baby, made some years ago and all but forgotten, has been approved. Halla is to be a mum. And the weird truth dawns simultaneously on her and the audience. Has this eco-campaign merely been a displacement activity for her thwarted maternal instincts? Will she sheepishly admit to herself that she...
(Excerpt) Read more at: the Guardian
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