Bergman Island

Bergman Island

A couple retreat to the island that inspired Ingmar Bergman to write screenplays for their upcoming films when the lines between reality and fiction start to blur.

A filmmaker couple travel to the island where Ingmar Bergman lived and made his films in . Chris () and Tony () are a couple, who travel to the Baltic island of Fårö, where Ingmar Bergman lived and made his most well-known films. Both Chris and Tony are filmmakers, with the latter on the island to attend a screening of one of his films, while Chris struggles with writer's block with the screenplay she is writing. On days, Chris tells Tony her story about a young woman named Amy (), who comes to Fårö for a wedding and rekindles her affections for her first love Joseph ().

Bergman Island is a drama written and directed by Mia Hansen-Løve, which sees a filmmaker couple visit the titular Bergman Island of Fårö. The island has become a tourist destination for fans of Igmar Bergman, with it being noted early on that Chris and Tony have the same bedroom from Scenes from a Marriage, a film that caused millions of people to divorce. While Tony is on the island primarily for business and taking the “Bergman Safari,” Chris struggles with coming up with a story for the screenplay she is writing, particularly the ending.

It can almost be said that Bergman Island is two films in one since the second half of the film moves away from the story of Tony and Chris and instead visualizes the story of Chris' screenplay, as Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie take over in the protagonist roles as Amy and Joseph, two ex-lovers who find themselves reunited when they come to Fårö for the wedding of their mutual friend Nicolette (Clara Strauch). However, since both have moved on with their lives, finding new partners, the reigniting of their passion results in some complicated feelings.

I do have to say that I thought that Mia Hansen-Løve does a good job at balancing out the multi-layered narrative of Bergman Island, which is both a love letter to the films of Ingmar Bergman, while also providing some commentary on the complexities of love and relationships and whether it is possible for the central filmmaker couple to have time for family, unlike Bergman himself, who had nine children from six different women. Indeed, the film gives hints that there is some rockiness to the relationship between Chris and Tony, with these insecurities being reflected in Chris' screenplay. Then there's the ending of the film, which brings the two narratives together in a somewhat fourth-wall-breaking fashion.

Altogether, Bergman Island is a film worth checking out for both Ingmar Bergman fans and hopeless lovers alike.

Bergman Island is now playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

Trailer for Bergman Island

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.