What would you do if extreme financial debt threatened to take away your dairy farm that you and your husband had inherited? Take a truck full of milk and spray it all over the office building of your enemies, of course! The County tells the tale of a tough-as-nails dairy farmer named Inga (Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir) and her husband Reynir (Hinrik Ólafsson); who are two small-time farmers in rural Iceland. When Reynir dies in an 18-wheeler crash, the Co-op that buys their milk comes thundering down on poor Inga, demanding that she pays off her husband’s debts. Faced with the threat of losing her home, Inga takes matters into her own rough hands and takes on the Co-op, intending to break their monopoly over the local dairy industry.
Director Grímur Hákonarson’s follow-up to his last feature film Rams, is a rousing David-and-Goliath tale that wisely blends comedy and drama, to get audiences laughing and cheering in sympathy for heroic Inga. Egilsdóttir is marvelous in the role, emerging as a quick-thinking modern woman forced to become a larger-than-life figure to fend off her enemies; who are presented here with a little more sympathy than what an average Hollywood film would give them. There’s complexity present here, and though the film is firmly on Inga’s side, it understands why the Co-op is applying pressure on her.
As Inga fights the corrupt forces threatening to take away her way of life, American audiences may be reminded of 2017’s controversial Oscar winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The County, however, has a leg up as its eerily similar older cousin: it’s smarter and funnier. It’s also visually stunning, filled with gorgeous camera compositions. In the midst of the Icelandic vistas, the tough Inga stands tall, searing herself into the mind of any invested viewer!
The County screened at the 55th Chicago International Film Festival. The film will screen again on October 27th at 5:30 pm at AMC River East 21.