Iceland‘s The County follows the cinematic tradition of rabble-rousing women who dare upset the societal norms including those in Norma Rae, North Country, Erin Brockovich and a subversive pinch of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It is set amongst the chilly picturesque backdrop of a small farming community that is controlled by a corrupt Mafia-like Co-op that forbids members from selling their products to other concerns for higher prices.
As Inga, a middle-aged woman who supports her husband Reynir‘s ties to the Co-op as they struggle to avoid bankruptcy, actress Arndis Hronn Egilsdottir shows the kind of unvarnished grit and determination of a Frances McDormand character as she stands by her man. But when her spouse’s death in a vehicle crash is declared a suicide, Inga takes matters in her own hands as she dares to push back against the patriarchy that has been making the rules as she discovers why he took his own life.
Fed up with being harassed by Co-op members who are hell-bent on bullying her into submission, she makes her case on her Facebook page, exposing their dirty doings publicly. When a reporter comes to her door, what was personal becomes a community effort against the tyranny of an overlord organization. Soon other members become emboldened to consider starting their own dairy farmers co-op.
Director-writer Grimur Hakonarson allows his female star to shine while engaging in what could be called good trouble, whether tossing manure on a trespasser’s windshield or spraying the cars parked in the co-op’s lot with milk. Meanwhile, the villain behind the evil empire is a scrawny over-entitled rich man (Sigurour Sigurjonsson) who surrounds himself with brawny enforcers. The fact that the mostly male farmers never make an issue about a female taking the lead as they fight back is refreshing. When we first see Inga onscreen, she takes some wry joy in the birth of a new calf. By the end, she brings to life a better life for her community.