Hal Kitchen’s review published on Letterboxd:
At the point where Rams, First Reformed and Instant Family intersect, you’ll find Woman at War, an absolutely wonderful Icelandic film that has proved one of the biggest and best surprises of 2019. The film follows Halla, a woman who spends her weekdays teaching choir and her weekends carrying out sabotage against her country’s environmentally irresponsible factories, and finds her life at a crossroads when her life as an eco-terrorist is arrested by the approval of a long forgotten request to adopt a Ukrainian child refugee.
Director Benedikt Erlingsson tells Halla’s story with extreme delicacy and eloquence, managing a perfect balance between calm, intellectual outrage, wry cinematic humour and genuine, unique emotional power, realised with evocative and intuitive visual storytelling. The film is almost a musical as Halla is followed around by first a three-piece Icelandic folk band and then a Ukrainian Women’s choir, who not only provide the fantastic score but begin to interact with the story, showing Halla’s chains of thought as she puts her plans into motion and processes the emotional trials the film throws in her path. Halla is a brilliant creation, as thanks to the superb performance and the extension of her mindscape into the musical accompaniment, she has an uncommon emotional articulation in how expressive she becomes.
I almost wasn’t going to see Woman at War but had I not I would have missed out on one of my favourite new releases of 2019.