WOMAN AT WAR (Benedikt Erlingsson). 100 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (March 15). See listing. Rating: NN
Woman At War is what youd get if you set out to engineer an art-house delight in a lab: all the idiosyncratic qualities that should come through naturally feel chilly and calculated. The storys interesting and star Halldora Geirhardsdottir is winning, but the execution borders on insufferable.
Geirhardsdottirs 40-something Halla is an unassuming choir director who moonlights as an eco warrior, working to cripple Reykjaviks power grid. The news that shes been approved to adopt a little girl from the Ukraine forces her to re-evaluate her activism: can she care for a child if shes risking her freedom by fighting the government?
Director/co-writer Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses And Men) cranks up the whimsy with a series of meta-textual flourishes. For instance, Halla is followed around by a deadpan trio of musicians playing the films score! What a lark!
But all hes doing is telling us not to invest in Hallas story, or the moral questions it raises, since shes living in a cartoon where nothing really matters.
Since the film premiered at TIFF, its been announced that Jodie Foster will direct and star in an English-language remake relocated to the American West. I wish her luck.