Bergman Island, 2021.
Written and Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve.
Starring Tim Roth, Vicky Krieps, Mia Wasikowska, Anders Danielsen Lie, Wouter Hendrickx, Joel Spira, Clara Strauch, Hampus Nordenson, Anki Larsson, Kerstin Brunnberg, Melinda Kinnaman, and Stig Björkman.
A couple retreat to the island that inspired Ingmar Bergman to write screenplays for their upcoming films when the lines between reality and fiction start to blur.
Bergman Island begins with independent filmmakers Tony and Chris (Tim Roth and Vicky Krieps, respectively) starting their vacation (which doubles as a search for artistic inspiration) and heading into the Fårö summer resort, functioning as a museum for Ingmar Bergman.
It’s not necessarily a surprise, but Mia Hansen-Løve is also not here to gush over a cinematic icon. Plenty of characters do, including Tony, who seems to agree that it was okay for Bergman to be a lousy husband and father and all-around terrible idol since it was vital for crafting his beloved art. Naturally, Chris is, in addition to being stuck in a rut artistically, conflicted on how to feel.
Similar to interrogating aspects of Ingmar Bergman’s personal life rather than obsessive praise, Mia Hansen-Løve has other, far more intriguing ideas for further praying into the relationship dynamics at play. Essentially, the unsmooth waves of marriage and island experience foster enough creativity to overcome Chris’ writer’s block, taking us into a movie within a movie (or scenes within scenes from a marriage, if you will) centered on Amy (Mia Wasikowska) still madly in love with her high school sweetheart Joseph (Anders Danielsen Lie).
Mia Hansen-Løv has a handle on the bigger picture, even if for everyone else that might require another viewing or some more Ingmar Bergman knowledge. Most importantly, Bergman Island works on multiple wavelengths just as its narrative likewise operates on different planes; it’s terrific as a study of female writers carving out a reputation in the male-dominated industry, a relationship drama, a challenging assessment of Bergman separating art from the artist, and a fascinating piece of cinematic education. It sets itself up to go one way before transforming not once but twice, with characters difficult to label and pinpoint.
Tickets can be purchased here.
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com