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‘The County’ review: Fighting the Icelandic dairy mafia

Rage against the machine.

The County is a drama from Iceland about one woman’s fight against corruption. Inga is left with her dairy farm and heavy debt after her husband seemingly commits suicide. Before long, she finds herself fighting against the co-operative that is claims to be keeping the small community afloat. But will her actions bring more harm than good? 

Director Grimur Hakonarson’s feature is indebted to the the westerns of mid twentieth century American cinema. The Icelandic setting may not look like the Old West, but there is a feel and atmosphere that permeates The County. A small farm’s fight for survival against the ruthless banks provides a near mirror image to Inga’s battle against the co-operative. 

There is also a humor to The County that is completely unique. The film is unafraid to dip into absurd and even dark comedy. This makes the already interesting story even more intriguing. The movie takes itself seriously but still knows how to laugh. This is important since the plot takes on themes of big business, capitalism, and community. Things run the risk of getting too heady if the mood is not lightened.

 

Despite the comedic moments, the seriousness of the situation is never downplayed. Inga is fighting against large scale deceit that can be compared to the mafia. The County is a classic underdog film with very high stakes. It is the tried and true tale about one person standing up against the machine. Inga is a powerful main character who is easy to get behind. 

As is always the case in these stories, the risk is high in The County. Hakonarson deftly builds the film and fills it with tension. Nothing is rushed as things escalate at a natural pace. There is economy in the storytelling as the film clocks in at around one hour and a half. Everything means something making for a great viewing experience.

The County arrives in theaters and virtual cinemas April 30

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