The Icelandic team of maverick filmmakers behind 2013’s jewel of a film that is Of Horses and Men, did it again with Woman at War their latest tragi-comedy, the winner of the SACD award for screenplay at Cannes 2018 Critic’s Week.
Meet Halla (excellent and believable Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir), fifty years old Icelandic woman, amateur choir master… and eco-terrorist. Halla is at war with a corporate invader of the aluminum industry. A major change in her personal life will put her underground activities into new perspectives…
Without disclosing too many elements (Cinetalk.net is spoiler and gluten free) let’s say that Woman at War works great in every departments because director Benedikt Erlingsson, in this day and age of too many crappy handheld improvised camera work, simply knows how to shoot a picture. Since the landscape is of beautiful Iceland it is good news. Plus, since cinematographer Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson also obviously knows how to shoot a picture beautifully without making it look like a postcard for tourists, we are in for a visually appealing ride.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Overall, one of numerous qualities of Woman at War lies in the clever ways Erlingsson and co-screenwriter Ólafur Egilsson dealt with such grave contemporary subject completely avoiding being preachy or heavy. Screenplay wise, it is merely reflecting major concerns of our epoch, with with dramatic sensibility while adding a great deal of irony, as a mean to unfold their exquisite narrative. The transitions from drama to humor to thriller-like-sequences is made effortlessly. At times it is part-jab, part feel good and, upstream it is deceptively complex, while the onscreen outcome is as fresh as it is comprehensive, thanks to the inspired editing work of David Alexander Corno who delivers the right pacing.
Woman at War is offbeat, coherent, clever (just wait to see what is done with Davíð Þór Jónsson delightful incidental score) carefully crafted and well balanced. When you pay to see a film you simply want it to be good. This is a mighty good one.