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BERGMAN ISLAND (Mia Hansen-Love, 2021) (1 Viewer)

JoeStemme

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BERGMAN ISLAND (2021) - Master Director Ingmar Bergman famously lived for the last decades of his life on the island of Fårö off Sweden and made it the setting for many of his films as well as varied relationships with wives and women. Writer-Director Mia Hansen-Love (EDEN, THINGS TO COME) sets her newest film on the isle and it becomes a character in and of itself.

A filmmaking couple, Chris (Vicky Krieps; so fascinating in PHANTOM THREAD) and Tony (Tim Roth), visit Fårö to work on their new screenplays as well as soak in the Bergman atmosphere, both being devoted to the famed Director. Tony is also being feted by the Swedish film community which grants the pair special access including a stay at one of Bergman's homes.This description may make it seem like this is a movie only for fans of the Swedish Director (he passed in 2007), but Hansen-Love has more on her mind (still, at least a cursory knowledge of Bergman's work is essential). This isn't to say that the film isn't littered with references and allusions to the filmmakers work and life - it is (the couple sleep in the same bedroom that was used for Bergman's SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE: “The film that made millions of people divorce” as is said here); But, Hansen-Love's focus is on the personal dynamics.

While Tony is obviously the senior partner in both age and success, the central character is clearly Chris. A movie within the movie brings to life the screenplay that she is working on. That inner tale concerns a young woman (Mia Wasikowska) who meets up with an old flame (Anders Danielsen Lie) at a wedding....on Fårö. While Wasikowska's character is named 'Amy', she is clearly a stand-in for Chris. It's a tricky and mostly clever device, even if it is awkwardly inserted into the storyline (and far too late). As a backstory within a backstory, Hansen-Love herself famously had a long affair with French Director Olivier Assayas -- who was also the senior partner in both age and success. And, to extend the “in” nature of the production even on step further, Greta Gerwig had been slated to play Chris originally (Gerwig, of course, also being involved in a filmaking couple romance with Noah Baumbach). As noted, it's awkward.

Cinefiles certainly are the target audience here. Bergman presence clearly haunts the island and there is talk of how he may have believed in ghosts. The film has an oddly structured screenplay that meanders a bit before making its design clear, but there are pleasures to be had for those that stick with it. The uninitiated may find it a pleasant tour of the scenic island (usually rendered bleakly in Bergman's films, and often in Black &White).
 

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