Iceland | Denmark | Germany | France 2019
Opening January 9, 2020
Directed by: Grímur Hákonarson
Writing credits: Grímur Hákonarson
Principle actors: Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir, Daniel Hans Erlendsson, Hafdís Helga Helgadóttir, Þorsteinn Gunnar Bjarnason, Þorsteinn Bachmann
After winning an Oscar for Hrútar (Rams), Grímur Hákonarson has once again herded us to an Icelandic farm where Inga (Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir) wakes up to find herself a widow now forced to run the dairy farm alone. The tragic truck accident leaves questions unanswered; the more Inga digs for the truth, the more she realizes that the long-standing community co-op is corrupt. Her awareness of the situation unearths an inner strength she didn’t know she had, and instead of joining the herd of corrupted farmers, she plans to resist to pressure of the co-op.
This low-key drama takes ordinary moments and crowns them with a sense of black humor, making this film no ordinary tale. Iceland’s cinematography adds a very special atmosphere where its desolate landscapes breathe sorrow, yet with anger seething from below. The landscape definitely plays a strong role in Hákonarson’s film, as does the humor. This is the second Icelandic film I’ve seen recently where there’s a strong female protagonist filled with rage at the inner-workings of the local community. Both this film and Kona fer í stríð (Woman at War) present us with the role of a modern woman who is seen by her community as crazy and out of control, rather than as a heroic archetypical figure. The storylines clearly refer to mythology in a contemporary setting. The characters struggle to find their paths in a modern society filled with corruption and misunderstandings yet probably won’t face the heavy consequences their counterparts did in the past. It does give us pause as to the state of our societies in which we live. Do corruption, tyrants, and a sense of hopelessness surround us, with no way out? Hákonarson is clearly an optimist, but he does note that there is a high cost. (Shelly S.)