When acclaimed filmmaker Tony (Tim Roth) is invited for a trip to Fårö, Sweden (the titular BERGMAN ISLAND), where he and his wife, screenwriter Chris (played by Vicky Krieps) settle in for the summer. Faro is of course famous as the setting of several films by the legendary Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman, especially his 1961 classic Through A Glass Darkly. While in Faro, Tony and Chris are inspired by the life and environment of Bergman as they each write their respective films. While engaged in their creative zones, reality and imagination begin to merge.
Trailer (Bergman Island):
Viewers should be advised that Bergman Island is a sedate spectacle about married filmmakers traversing their work and relationships. It takes inspiration from the life and works of the Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman. Aspiring writers may value getting inside a filmmaker’s head. Classic film buffs may rejoice at Bergman’s insights. However, there’s not much here to entertain the average viewer seeking simple escapism. It’s an exploration of the intricacies of long-term romantic relationships – sex, infidelity, with hints of nudity. There’s also the inclusion of several “we are in Sweden!” moments; scenes infused with Volvos, ABBA, and cold climate
It would also be propaedeutic to watch Bergman’s 1973 classic, Scenes From A Marriage.
Inspiration (Bergman Island)
Even youngsters who make their own digital short films and cinematic videos probably won’t have much to take from here. A fact reinforced by the storytelling’s subtlety and maturity. French director Mia Hansen-Løve‘s love letter to Ingmar Bergman and the art of cinema is the perfect feed for a film festival screening. Captivating post-screening discussion for creative intellectual types might be in order, but it lacks the entertainment value outside of this niche. It includes a film-within-a-film to show how a script is put together, viewers can see how writers extract situations, environments, emotions, frustrations, and influences from real life until it’s finally not always clear what is real and what is fantasy.
As she walked the path to the starting point of creative concepts; Hansen-Love’s own process also saw her travel to Fårö; live in one of Bergman’s houses, and have the same conversations as her characters have, with those who work at the Bergman Foundation.
On the surface, it appears as if nothing substantial is happening in Bergman Island. Chris and Tony’s relationship is at a crossroads which even they aren’t aware of. They certainly do not speak about it, as they share the comfort of a typical long-married couple. Yet, they are not fully on the same wavelength. Unlike the iconic Scenes From A Marriage, there’s no bitter wounding here, just nuanced snubs. It’s not so much a story about female empowerment as about feminine identity; where Chris tries to find her place outside the shadow of a more successful man, her husband, as her fictional avatar Amy (played by Mia Wasikowska) struggles with the pull of an eternally burning love. Some adults may find the little moments from the film relatable, but many may view it as a tremendous waste of time – given the hustle and bustle we inhabit.