Bergman Island

Now, I liked that more than I thought I would. Not to be cheeky but it’s about two filmmakers who take a residency on Faro, the island where Ingmar Bergman lived. So I was braced for it being full of insufferable wanks going, “The thing about Bergman is . . . blahblahblah . . . genius auteur . . . blahblahblah . . . master of his oeuvre”. Actually it’s got a warmth I wasn’t expecting.

Tim Roth plays Tony and Vicky Krieps plays Chris, an American couple who come to the island to work on their screenplays. Both love Bergman but for different reasons, and they discuss his works throughout the film. That might get you absolutely pepped for watching this film, or that might make you wilt inwardly, but really, what engages you is what you’re seeing about their relationship from their discussions. Tony can be quite flippant, and a bit dismissive of Chris, although he truly loves her. Chris needs a lot of time to herself, and likes to explore the island and other friendships without Tony, which Tony perceives as a withdrawal. Yet, cycling through the micro-moods of their day, they find a way to come back to each other each time.

Chris tells Tony about her screenplay, so we get a film within a film. In it, Mia Wasikowska stars as Amy, reconnecting with an old flame, Joseph, played by Anders Danielsen Lie, at a friend’s wedding on the island. This bittersweet romance takes place over the sand dunes and beauty spots Chris has been exploring. The film has a loneliness and yearning that Tony seems to miss, interrupting the story a couple of times to take phone calls.

Director Mia Hansen-Love is a obviously a big Bergman stan, and the film has been described as a love letter to him. And while his work, and filmmaking in general, is central to the movie, the real heart of the film is how we relate to those we love, how we manifest the invisible in ourselves, and how we share it outside ourselves.