Woman at War

Woman at War ★★★½

Outside of Reykjavik, Iceland, one woman pursues a determined resistance against regional industrialization as a cause of climate change until a letter threatens to derail her ecoterrorism. From the writer/director of "Of Horses and Men."

I can almost always be assured that a well-reviewed Nordic film will fall on the positive side of my ratings scale, regardless how droll the subject matter might sound. Sure enough, the Sisyphean saga of Halla's lonely battle echoes the efforts of environmentalists, struggling against the behemoths of corrupt and wealth-oriented politics and corporate interests. But writer Erlingsson, unsatisfied with the heroic story as is, adds a measure of amusing quirk in the form of an omnipresent, occasionally-noticed three-piece band and native choir that provides an everpresent soundtrack to Halla's crusade. Rather than settle for a droning Euro flatline, the story even picks up intensity in the latter half, including a rather satisfying twist.

While the environs are often sparse, the plot tends to be so as well. The additions of a hapless biking bystander being the butt of a running gag, while comical, seems tacked on. I never really got the gist of the panicked official she occasionally conspires with, and his fate is left ambiguous. Similarly, the closing felt inconclusive and open-ended, as if cutting off in mid-story, tho I rationalized the somewhat grim metaphor being conveyed an hour or two later.

An intriguing and mostly accessible quandary of having to choose between causes. With a likable woke anti-hero, a handful of amiable supporting characters, decent tension, and playful application of music making it akin to a fable, this enviro-conscious drama leverages its strengths well.

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