'Bergman Island' Review: Mia Hansen-Love serves a golden movie on a silver platter

A couple plan a summer trip for work, not knowing their time together would open a can of worms. What lies in store for them at Faro Island?


                            'Bergman Island' Review: Mia Hansen-Love serves a golden movie on a silver platter
A still from 'Bergman Island' (IMDb)

'Bergman Island' is a recent drama film, internationally co-produced, written, and directed by Mia Hansen-Love. The movie stars Vicky Krieps, Tim Roth, Mia Wasikowska, and Anders Danielsen Lie in lead roles. 'Bergman Island' had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in July 2021.

The movie was released in France on July 14, 2021, by Les Films du Losange. A modest but charming indie film, the well-acted 'Bergman Island' uses the titular filmmaker Ingmar Bergman's legacy as the launchpad for a dreamlike rumination on both romance and creativity.

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The storyline follows two American filmmakers, who retreat to Faro Island to spend their summer in the hopes of finding inspiration where Bergman shot most of his acclaimed films. As the days pass by, the lines between both fantasy and reality are blurred, while the couple is slowly torn apart. 'Bergman Island' is poignant, mediating between past memories, creativity, imagination and art. In short, it takes it time examining how art affects life and vice versa and this is most evident in the last ambiguous shots in the film. 'Bergman Island', is about romance but takes a meta view on the subject matter. On the surface of things, the plot revolves around a filmmaker, Chris, who flies to Sweden with her partner Tony and pitches him a screenplay about her first love. 

Every detail in the movie alternates from fiction to reality and back again, blurring the lines between them. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Chris and Tony’s relationship is on the rocks but don't expect melodramatic scenes. 'Bergman Island' is too sophisticated to make its characters fight, or surrender to temptation as they would in a lesser cinematic venture. But it is more than evident that their idea of marriage and companionship has begun to crumble and there are no easy fixes. They share no real bonds, besides their kid, and to some extent the artists' circle they are both connected to.

And then, 'Bergman Island' slips into a different dimension altogether, powered by imagination, when Chris starts guiding Tony through the script she has written. Change never come easy. The characters' identity is so anchored to their jobs that they often seem at risk of drowning in their own dreams. But Chris stands a class apart because of her vocation as an artist — it is the dreaming that sets her free.

Inspired by Bergman’s example, Chris tries to construct a Faro of her own imagining. It is a fantasy that allows her to look at her lifeless marriage from a fresh perspective and find the resolve to gracefully liberate herself from Tony before it’s too late. This film by Mia Hansen-Love is meant to be savoured. The more you contemplate its narrative, the more pleasure it will bestow on you.

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