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FILM OF THE WEEK Rebel with a cause

MARIA DUARTE recommends a gritty and amusing tale of one woman's revolt against corruption in a small Icelandic farming community

The County (12A)
Directed by Grimur Hakonarson

IN THE COUNTY, a middle-aged widow pursues the fight for justice by taking on “the man” in this slow-burning but compelling comedy drama.

The film centres on dairy farmer Inga (Arndis Hronn Egilsdottir), who is forced to run the family farm when her husband is killed in a car crash. Questions abound — was it a tragic accident, murder or suicide?

As she mourns his loss, Inga admits that she feels betrayed by him for leaving her with so many debts and beholden to the local co-operative which runs and controls the community and the county by bullying and intimidating its members.

So she decides to take a stand against the injustice and corruption rife in the co-op by launching a stinging no-holds barred attack on Facebook in which she labels it the Mafia. She is interviewed on the local TV news and tries to rally the other dairy farmers to team up with her and rebel against the powerful co-op.

From the award-winning director of Rams, what transpires is a fascinating and engaging film about female empowerment and the fight of the underdog in a David vs Goliath-style battle, albeit at local level.

It is also a compelling exploration of how power corrupts and what began as an egalitarian business turned into a toxic monopoly, with the head of the co-op blacklisting members who bought goods and services at cheaper prices from outside the organisation with the help of Inga’s late husband.

Egilsdottir delivers an outstanding performance as Inga. An unstoppable force, she refuses to be bullied or terrorised by the co-op leadership and uses ever more inventive ways to beat them at their own game, with humorous results.

Shots of the cold and bleak Icelandic landscape underscore the hardship that the farmers endure in maintaining their livelihoods and keeping their farms afloat.

It’s a gripping drama that shows justice can prevail if people join forces and make a stand against the bullies of this world.

Available on Curzon Home Cinema.

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