In the wake of Venice... 28 times cinema Review of Woman at War

Photo from Woman at War

by Jonathan Atkinson

Benedikt Erlingsson’s latest film Woman at War arrived in Venice with a significant amount of momentum behind it after premiering at this year’s Cannes festival to near universal adoration, and it will doubtlessly continue along the festival path with yet more goodwill towards it after proving to be an utterly pertinent, funny, and concise effort.

The film’s handling of choir teacher-turned-activist Halla’s (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) battle against the unaccountable multinational corporation’s usurpation of nature in her homeland evidences a desire to tackle what is often an overly worthy subject in a mature, reflexive way. In comparison to the contemporary milieu of bleeding-heart mainstream cinema marching to the beat of Michael Jackson’s Earth SongWoman at War stands out against such impotent Hollywood hissy fits and manages to make arresting once more what should indeed hold our utmost attention.

Not content to blinker itself to one issue, an enormous strength of the film is its readiness to be synecdochical of so much of what concerns us in our current situation. Halla is someone who dearly loves her home but does not wish to exclude it from outsiders, she is a woman with an irrepressibly strong sense of duty and purpose but will not let it diminish her earnest desire to be a mother, she bears the individual motivation to create a change in the world but cannot do it alone. The film may not completely reconcile each of these antagonisms, but it does deliver a piece of cinema which appears as completely of its place. Rather than be weighed down by what could have easily become excessively twee, the film wholly wins you over with its sincerity and clarity of vision, acting both as a resonating rallying cry for the issues humanity faces and for the presence of Icelandic film on the world stage.