Two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster is set to direct and star in an English-language remake of the Icelandic eco-thriller Woman at War, it was announced Monday. Benedikt Erlingsson directed the original film, which is Iceland’s official submission for this year’s foreign language Oscar.
Woman at War stars Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir as a genial music teacher who moonlights as an environmental activist bent on sabotaging the local aluminum industry. When she receives unexpected news that her adoption application has been approved and a baby girl is waiting for her in Ukraine, she commits to one last mission, all while government agents close in on her identity.
Woman at War premiered in May at the Cannes Film Festival, where the feminist fable won the screenwriting prize in the Critics’ Week section. Foster told Deadline that Woman at War “thrilled me beyond words” and called the protagonist “warrior for the planet, a strong woman who risks it all to do the right thing.” The filmmaker said she was drawn to its “bold and quirky mixture of humor and emotion,” and apparently she plans to relocate the film’s setting from Iceland to the American West.
Foster has a bit of a mixed track record as a director. She’s never directed a turkey, but she’s never hit a home run either. She seems to have cooled with each film, starting out hot with Little Man Tate (73 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), followed by diminishing returns for Home for the Holidays (63%), The Beaver (61%) and Money Monster (58%). Foster most recently directed the “Arkangel” episode of Black Mirror and to be honest, it may be the best thing she’s ever done behind the camera.
Of course, Foster is, first and foremost, an actor, and she’s one of the very best there is, having won Oscars for The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs. She hasn’t been nominated since 1994’s Nell, but that’s simply due to her choice of material. She always brings it onscreen, from Contact, Panic Room and Inside Man to The Brave One, Elysium and Hotel Artemis. Woman at War strikes me as a solid role for Foster, so let’s just hope she has the deft touch behind the camera to make the most of this acting opportunity.
Erlingsson co-wrote Woman at War with Ólafur Egilsson and also produced alongside Marianne Slot and Carine Leblanc of Slot Machine. Slot will produce the remake with Foster’s Egg Pictures.