WOMAN AT WAR – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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Woman at War is about a 49-year-old Iceland native named Halla (Hallodora Geirharodottir) who by day is a joy-filled choir director and tai chi enthusiast who has portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandala hanging in her living room. But make no mistake. She is indeed a warrior on a mission to save Mother Earth, as she regularly sabotages an aluminum plant that is helping to destroy the environment.

But her underground efforts might have to take a backseat soon when Halla learns that the application she filled out four years ago to adopt an orphan from the Ukraine is about to be fulfilled and soon she will be a mother to a 4-year-old daughter. Her situation isn’t too far off from Holly Hunter’s Elastigirl in the Incredibles franchise

That summary, however, doesn’t quite do justice to the slightly off-center sensibility of director Benedikt Erlingsson’s picaresque tale. For one, our heroine is followed about by a musical trio, who show up with drums, a piano or an accordion and a Sousaphone to provide the score. There are also three lady singers in peasant garb who harmonize in the background. Also, one of Halla’s male choir members is a government official who is helping her to pull off her attempts to cut off the power supply. And, lo and behold, our eco-terrorist heroine has a twin, Asa, who is a guru instructor and knows nothing about her secret life. There are running gags, such as the curly-haired male bike rider who unfortunately seems to be in the vicinity whenever Halla pulls off her stunts. But there is also human compassion among those who help the leading lady along the way.

Fun moments pop up such as when Halla sets off a collection of alarm clocks at a second-hand shop to distract the clerk so she can make off with an old typewriter or she uses a baby carriage to carry her weapons of destruction. I also appreciate that Geirharodottir, whose dazzling blue eyes can flash grim determination but also deep caring, is lean and mean as she runs about the outdoors.

Woman at War was offered up as Iceland’s foreign-language Oscar admission last year but got passed by. But perhaps, even better, is the news that Jodie Foster plans to direct and star in an English remake.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Woman at War is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for February 22, 2019

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a senior editor for the online awards site Gold Derby. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.