THE COUNTY – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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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.

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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 contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. 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.