The County (3 stars)

The County

GFF 2020: Grímur Hákonarson returns with a likeable story of female empowerment and defiance

Cheeringly, the stories of female empowerment keep on coming, as Rams director Grímur Hákonarson follows his acclaimed story of sheep-stashing with another study in righteous disobedience. This time, we follow a recent widow who's fighting the good fight for herself and her fellow dairy farmers by challenging the might of a corrupt workers' co-operative.

Set in rural Iceland, Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir plays the middle-aged Inga, who loses her loving husband Reynir (Hinrik Ólafsson) early on. In the aftermath of his death, she discovers that he was being blackmailed into working as an informant for the aforementioned co-operative, who exert a mafia-like hold on their small community. Using Facebook as an initial platform, Inga begins to whistle-blow – posting exposés, appearing on the local news, rallying the troops, and acting out – all the while trying to keep her struggling farm afloat.

Shellshocked and ravaged by both grief and toil, Inga nonetheless cuts a rather magnificent figure – she's a kind of barnyard Boudica. It's a lovely performance, a portrait of someone who, ultimately, almost enjoys having nothing left to lose. There's humour in her escalating campaign of defiance – particularly when she deposits a shovelful of shit on the windscreen of an adversary.

Fans of Icelandic oddities epitomised by the director's previous picture, as well as the work of Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses and Men, Woman at War), may be a little disappointed by The County's gentle rather than overt eccentricity. And while it evokes Sebastián Lelio's Gloria in its heroine's love for cheesy pop, unlike that and the similarly wonderful Woman at War, it doesn't quite deliver in the uplifting stakes. Plumping for quietly inspiring and sincere in its stead, this is still a likeable film about guts and, hopeful, glory.

Screening on Thu 27 and Fri 28 Feb as part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2020. Selected release from Fri 22 May.

The County

  • 3 stars
  • 2019
  • Iceland
  • 1h 32min
  • 12
  • Directed by: Grímur Hákonarson
  • Cast: Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir, Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson, Þorsteinn Bachmann

Inga (Egilsdóttir) is a recently widowed woman in Iceland who discovers that her late husband had been blackmailed by a corrupt workers’ co-operative into working as an informant. A likeable tale about guts, defiance and female empowerment (and disempowerment) with a lovely central performance.

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