Grímur Hákonarson returns to the desolate rural landscape of his native Iceland for his follow-up to the multiple award-winning Rams, unspooling another tale of tensions among the farming community.
When a tragic accident claims the life of her husband, Inga (Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir) is faced with having to run their entire farming operation alone. Initially, the local co-op reaches out to lend a hand but discontent has been brewing between the increasingly shady organization and the local farmers for some time. Keeping farms mired in debt payments while raising the price on supplies and also threatening to shut down any business if the farmers try and buy from other outlets are just some of the tactics used to keep everybody under the co-op’s thumb. And when Inga finds out further information about her husband’s accident that connects back to them, she wages an all-out war.
From here, The County builds a rich allegory about the fight against big business that has an almost Capra-esque crowd pleasing quality to it. It’s anchored by a deeply felt performance from Egilsdóttir as Inga, getting fired up while still keeping a cool head amidst the painful shock of losing her husband. While constantly engulfed by the vast landscapes, gorgeously composed by cinematographer Mart Taniel, she makes her impact felt and the frenetic score by Valgeir Sigurðsson captures her amped-up mindset.
It doesn’t have quite the bleak wit that Rams did but it’s another film about grand primordial themes that feel as fresh as ever.