Bergman’s Island – Review


Andrew Eaton, Contributor


The shadow of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman looms over the concept of the “art -house” film. Even since the legendary filmmaker’s death in 2007, Bergman’s legacy of masterpieces such as Persona, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries and Autumn Sonata has not diminished in popularity among film lovers. To quote Martin Scorcese when talking about the European icon, “ It’s impossible to overestimate the effect his films had on people.” This massive impact makes it all the more impressive that Mia Hansen Love’s Bergman Island doesn’t feel like an imitation of Ingmar’s films but rather stands out as its own study of marital relationships and artistry.


The film centers on a film-making couple, an aspiring director Chris (a lovely Vicky Krieps) and her far more established husband Tony (Tim Roth), as they travel to Faro, the island where Ingmar Bergman shot some of his films and lived until his death. While there, Chris attempts to write a script about a young woman (Mia Wasikowska) as she rekindles with an old flame during a wedding on the same island. As Bergman Island progresses, the film travels back and forth from reality to Chris’s story, blending the two to create a portrait of an artist finding her voice amongst her husband’s influence.


While the film is no Scenes From A Marriage retread, it is certainly in conversation with certain themes of Bergman’s work. After all, Love’s film is about a relationship subtly in crisis, a concept which Ingmar dealt with both in his films and poorly in his own life (something which Bergman Island acknowledges.) Yet despite Bergman’s ghost-like presence on the island, the film flexes its own style and voice through its leisurely yet never dull pacing and relaxing visuals which does justice to Faro’s beauty. Mia Hansen Love and cinematographer Denis Lenoir capture the rich rocky beaches and dense forests of Bergman’s home with an acute eye that might convince the viewer to want to travel there themselves one day.


Bergman Island  also has some good humor up its sleeve. Some tongue in cheek jokes surrounding the obsessive nature of cinephilia are quite funny and help give the film a slightly meta feel without coming across as obnoxious about what it’s referencing. The comedy matches the breezy pacing well to create a film that deals with heavy ideas but never overwhelms.


Mia Hansen Love has created a lovely film with a light but nuanced and personal story with  Bergman Island.