Bergman Island

Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

Bergman Island
dir-scr Mia Hansen-Love
prd Charles Gillibert, Erik Hemmendorff, Rodrigo Teixeira, Lisa Widen
with Vicky Krieps, Tim Roth, Mia Wasikowska, Anders Danielsen Lie, Hampus Nordenson, Clara Strauch, Joel Spira, Stig Bjorkman, Siri Hjorton Wagner, Melinda Kinnaman, Anki Larsson, Grace Delrue
release Swe 1.Oct.21,
UK Oct.21 lff, US 15.Oct.21
21/Sweden 1h52

krieps roth wasikowska
london film fest

Is it streaming?

wasikowska and lie
A textured look at the nature of relationships, played as a warm homage to all things Ingmar Bergman, this multi-layered drama isn't quite as grim as you'd expect it to be. Writer-directer Hansen-Love tinges the story's knowingly sad angles with glimpses of hope and even happiness. This is a provocative depiction of the challenge of balancing a connection with deeper, lingering feelings. And it's gorgeously shot in striking locations.
On a working holiday to Faro, the Swedish island where Bergman lived and shot many of his classics, husband-wife filmmakers Tony and Chris (Roth and Krieps) settle in to the quirky, gentle pace of local life. But they end up exploring the island separately, Tony on a Bergman Safari with a lively group of tourists and Chris guided by visiting student Hampus (Nordenson). Meanwhile, Chris is beginning to work out the plot for her new film, which follows Amy (Wasikowska) as she attends a wedding here with her ex Joseph (Lie), whom she still loves.
The wind-swept island is beautiful, with a striking range of rocky and sandy shores, gnarled trees and lush meadows, plus of course the witty Scandinavian charm of the local residents. Writer-director Hansen-Love makes terrific use of the places where Bergman lived and worked, playfully echoing iconic moments, while the dialog explores shifting attitudes toward relationships and gender roles over the decades. At the centre of the film, the connections between Tony and Chris, as well as Amy and Joseph, provide plenty to think about.

Performances have a gently naturalistic tone, which combined with the relaxed camerawork creates the feel of a fly-on-the-wall documentary. At the centre, Krieps is open and thoughtful, thoroughly likeable as Chris plots out her new script, recounts it to Tony and tries to work out its ending. Her scenes with Roth are infused with a superb sense of offhanded affection. By contrast, Wasikowska's role is more openly emotive, as a young woman grappling with her past and future. And her scenes with Lie bristle with their lost connection.

Of course, Chris' narrative begins to merge with Amy's, at first mirroring and echoing before Hansen-Love starts cleverly adding surreal touches that bring bigger ideas to light in the final scenes. In addition to the provocative relational themes, the film is also a knowing depiction of the creative process for both artists and fans. And it's also a wry celebration of all things Swedish, from depression and movies to saunas and Abba.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 7.Oct.21 lff

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© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall