Woman at War (Kona fer í stríð)  Review: Intelligent. Funny. Urgent.
A bold, quirky & engrossing effort that examines the uphill battle it is for anyone who dares stepping up against corporations & governments to save the planet, Woman at War expertly balances crowd-pleasing obligations with credible environmental concerns to make its plea for actions against climate change without ever sounding preachy to the viewers, and is all the more uplifted by Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir's stellar lead act.
Intelligent, funny & urgent, Woman at War (Kona fer í stríð) is a deceptively lighthearted yet highly riveting tale of a middle-aged woman who wages a lone war against corporations to protect her country’s pristine highlands. Crafted with heart & told with finesse, the film expertly balances crowd-pleasing obligations with credible environmental concerns and is furthermore uplifted by Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir’s stellar lead act.
Set in Iceland, the story follows a choir conductor who leads a double life as a passionate environmental activist. Determined to make things tough for the local aluminum industry to prevent it from disfiguring her country, she purposely damages electricity pylons & wires to cut their power supply but the situation gets more complicated when a long-held hope of hers while government ramps up the efforts to discredit her.
Written, produced & directed by Benedikt Erlingsson, the film is gripping from the get-go and introduces our protagonist as she sabotages the power supply to a polluting plant, thus disrupting their operations. Erlingsson’s direction steadily escalates the tension as our vigilante’s peril only deepens with time but he also makes sure that the story never for once loses its amusing touch, even when things go from bad to worse.
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By keeping the plot humorous & entertaining, Woman at War is able to make its plea for action against climate change to the viewers without ever sounding preachy. Also adding more richness to the plot is the beautiful Nordic landscapes that highlight what’s at stake when nations allow money-minded global corporations to operate on their lands yet never reprimand them for the ecological devastation they leave behind in their wake.
Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir plays the eco-terrorist who declares war against the local aluminum industry to prevent it from disfiguring her country, and she is absolutely fun to watch. Her performance deftly juggles her character’s fear & determination and she’s well-supported by the rest of the cast. Its 101 minutes narrative is finely edited & unfolds at a breezy pace. And the musicians providing the background score are always on standby mode, springing into action whenever cued.
On an overall scale, Woman at War (Kona fer í stríð) is a smartly directed, sharply scripted, cleverly layered, gorgeously photographed, skilfully edited, smoothly paced, aptly scored & strongly performed comedy-drama that addresses its timely themes with verve and articulates them with clarity, all without sacrificing its entertainment quality. A bold, quirky & engrossing effort that examines the uphill battle it is for anyone who dares to step up to save the planet, this delightful yet despairing gem from Iceland comes definitely recommended.