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Movie Review: Woman at War


Searching for a movie with a strong, interesting, multi-layered female lead? Maybe you should look away from Hollywood and turn your attention to what is going on in Iceland - more specifically, to the film Woman at War


The movie focuses on Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir), a 50-year-old relatable choir director who leads a life like everybody else’s, except when she is acting as an environmental activist (some would say an eco-terrorist) on a crusade against Iceland’s most polluting industries. 


When she is not hiding from drones in the Icelandic highlands and using her bow-and-arrow and electric saw to disrupt power transmission to paralyze a local aluminum plant, Halla lives her life in an unremarkable middle-class home decorated with posters of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. After receiving a letter with news that promise to make a long-lasting dream come true, the careful activist has to take greater risks to get her environmental message out before her life changes forever.


Woman at War tells an original story with a quiet, irresistible sense of humor. It also raises interesting questions about corporate power, the media, the ethics of radical political activism, the difference a single person can make, and how far is too far. And, of course, the way the soundtrack is used in the movie is reason enough to get you out of the house to watch it. But I won’t give any spoilers about that. You should see it for yourself.


Directed by Benedikt Erlingsson, Woman at War was Iceland’s submission to the best foreign language movie Oscar category in 2019. The film didn’t get the nomination, but it caught Jodie Foster’s attention. The actress will direct, co-produce and star in a remake set on America’s West Coast. Still, I recommend watching the original movie. It won’t be easy to reproduce Woman at War’s charming spirit or its delicate balance between relevance and sense of humor.


- Lalu Farias

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