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THE COUNTY gets 6/10 On the farm

Directed by Grímur Hákonarson
Starring Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir, Jens Albinus, Alfrun Rose

6/10

The rough and chilly terrain is not the only issue explored in The County, but also the oppressive demands of the local corporations/authorities. This film shows the battles against this local authoritarianism, though doesn’t present enough back-and-forth conflict to make this struggle hugely compelling.

After a tragedy in her family, farmer Inga (Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir) has to suddenly take over her family farm, but realises how much her work and finances are compromised by what is called the “Co-Op.” So she takes on this monopolising organisation, trying to reclaim her own financial worthiness through the highest bidders.

The County presents a struggle between a woman, already in the throes of grief, taking on the responsibility of her family farm, only to discover the oppressive pressures that this business has been put under for years – and she’s determined to make a change to that. The Co-Op of this Icelandic town dictates how farmers distribute their goods to the public, usually at their expense. Inga takes somewhat drastic measures to combat their stronghold on the market.

This tale of rural conflict comes from the director of Rams (which played at PIAF as well), though the dark and chilly mood recalls the more recent Icelandic film A White, White Day, with its ominous attitude and its building up of dread. But this kind of dread becomes alleviated as the film takes a much more streamlined and linear approach to conflict, showing how easily Inga takes on this evil entity.

Egilsdóttir carries this film as a determined woman who wants to reclaim control of her own business, even though the film doesn’t have enough conflict for her to go through to make her struggles justified. With so little conflict occurring in the film’s last act, there’s a rigid feeling of “is that it?” when the film comes to a close.

The County has an inspiring story about standing up to manipulative bureaucratic policies that demean and take advantage of the working class. Yet The County also plays it easy showing the conflict between this farmer and her overlords, viewing in a slow-paced manner her troubled relations with this business. It’s an inspiring tale, yet a bit too short, and a bit more push-back against her own regime would make this film feel more satisfactory at its conclusion.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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