When we first meet Halla (Halldora Geirharosdottir), the titular character of the second feature film from Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson, she's single-handedly sabotaging power lines. With just a bow and arrow, a length of metal cable and a pair of dishwashing gloves, Halla shuts down a nearby aluminum refinery–but only temporarily. Accustomed to this form of eco-vandalism, the smelter switches to backup power, and on the news announces that its plans to expand are going forward.
Meanwhile, Halla races across the lush, primeval Icelandic landscape, hiding behind lava rock formations or concealing herself in a moss-covered crevasse to avoid being spotted by a police helicopter. Dressed in lopapeysa, the traditional, patterned wool sweater, and leather motorcycle pants, she's a cross between a detective in a Nordic noir and Tomb Raider Lara Croft. Except Halla's actions are accompanied by a soundtrack from an on-screen folksy trio playing upright piano, drum kit, and sousaphone.
No one suspects the 50-something-year-old Halla, who directs a small choir and decorates her bright flat with photos of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, aside from her co-conspirator Baldvin (Jorundur Ragnarsson), a member of the Icelandic government. For instance, in the press the politicians blame terrorists--outsiders interfering in Iceland's industrial progress. But the police's prime suspect continues to be Juan (Juan Camillo), a Spanish-speaking tourist who's just trying to bicycle around the island.
The script, written by Erlingsson and Olafur Egill Egilsson, contains many moments of whimsy, which act to reinforce the film' message instead of diverting attention from it. It's a fairy tale, told in three acts, in which the wilderness is at the mercy of the evil in the world; not the source of it.
The wild is also what sustains Halla. She draws inspiration by lying flat on the moss and inhaling deeply, and at one point is even revived by a baptism of sorts in a hot spring. She's determined to see her plan, laid out in her Woman of the Mountain manifesto, to its end, despite, or even perhaps because of, a letter from an adoption agency informing her that the application she filled out years ago has now been approved and there's a war orphan waiting for her in the Ukraine. To do the most good, Halla argues with her identical twin (also played by Geirharosdottir), you must sometimes sacrifice what you want most.