The opening scene sets the tone for her secret eco-activism: both fraught with danger of electrocution - even death, and the potential for discovery by the authorities who will most certainly prosecute and imprison this ‘terrorist’. But quiet choir master Halla is not an obvious suspect, and suspicion is diverted by a random and odd tourist, who manages to be in the wrong place at the wrong time… phew. It’s often a close shave as she races across difficult terrain and hides under mossy banks to avoid helicopters. At these points it’s a thriller, and you are willing her to remain undiscovered. With the help of a local farmer friend Sveinbjörn (warmly and gruffly played by Jóhann Sigurðarson), she repeatedly escapes detection and capture, mostly by a hair’s breadth!
However, the incongruous and comic presence of a trio of musicians, that appear in situ in the landscape, provide an odd light relief, as well as some appealing Icelandic folk music. There they are, playing the score to the action, and are joined later by a trio of traditionally dressed beautiful Ukranian singers. Occasionally one or more of the tuba, trumpet, accordion, piano and/or drums also appear inside, sympathetically accompanying her thoughtful daily activities. It’s an odd, but likeable, distraction and gives the film an eccentric additional comment to make you smile, as well as some rather haunting music.
But I digress. Halla is herself distracted by a letter that is to change her life in a very different direction. Her long forgotten application to adopt a child has finally come to fruition, and a little girl is waiting in Ukraine. How does this sit with her guerrilla eco-activism? Will she reduce her campaign now she is to be a responsible and loving mother? Halla thinks of a solution to cease action, but maintain her presence. Not all goes to plan. Enter her identical twin Asa, a hippy yoga teacher (also played by Geirharðsdóttir). If ever there was a need for an identical twin, this is it. And as identical twin movies go, this is one of the best, by far. Geirharðsdóttir’s performances in both roles are beautifully drawn, but particularly as the compelling Halla, as she grabbles with her dream of motherhood and her fierce love of her planet.
Not to plot spoil, but the last scene shows Halla dealing with life’s extremes and adversities in the pursuit of what you love and believe in. Do see this movie, it is a rewarding experience, both cinematically and emotionally, and it will quietly stay with you.
Icelandic with English subtitles, directed by Icelandic actor-turned-director Benedikt Erlingsson.