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film review

Halldora Geirharosdottir plays Halla, a mild-mannered, middle-aged choirmistress who dabbles in ecoterrorism.Benedikt Erlingsson/Courtesy of Mongrel Media

Woman at War

Directed by: Benedikt Erlingsson

Written by: Benedikt Erlingsson and Olafur Egilsson

Starring: Halldora Geirharosdottir

Classification: PG

101 minutes


3.5 out of 4 stars

The Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson follows up 2013’s Of Horses and Men with Woman at War, a wry, idiosyncratic comedy that communicates important topical messages while never being less than a joy to watch. Halldora Geirharosdottir is something to behold as Halla, a mild-mannered, middle-aged choirmistress who seriously dabbles in ecoterrorism. A Tai Chi enthusiast, a fan of Gandhi and Mandela, and an excellent saboteur, she invokes ancestral law and messes with hydro towers in her quest to make her ruggedly beautiful land safe for future generations, which happen to include a small child from Ukraine she seeks to adopt as a single mother. Filmmaker Erlingsson has an eye for detail, a flair for the absurd – a sousaphone-based trio pops up here and there – and a deft touch with social commentary and political satire. Heroine Halla gets help from a sister (also played by Geirharosdottir) and a farmer who calls his collie “Woman.” Woman, as in man’s best friend – and mankind’s best hope.

Woman at War opens March 15 in Toronto, March 22 in Ottawa and March 29 in Vancouver.