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bergman island review
A filmmaking couple visit Ingmar Bergman's old stomping ground.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Mia Hansen-Løve

Starring: Vicky Krieps, Tim Roth, Mia Wasikowska, Anders Danielsen Lie

Ingmar Bergman may not seem the most likely filmmaker to inspire a theme park, but that's essentially what happens on the Swedish island of Fårö for one week every year. Bergman lived and died on the island and conceived and filmed several of his films there. Once a year the island hosts Bergman Week, which sees filmmakers invited to sleep in the bedroom from Scenes from a Marriage, visit Bergman's grave and argue with fellow cinephiles over the meaning of his oeuvre.

bergman island review

As a promotional video for the tourist board of Fårö, Mia Hansen-Løve's Bergman Island is a success. Who wouldn't want to spend a summer week in this glorious setting (though as a character points out, it may not have the same charm in January)? Unfortunately there's not much of a movie here, certainly not one that would satisfy Bergman fans.

bergman island review

Tim Roth plays Tony, a filmmaker who is this year's special guest during Bergman week. Ironically, he's not much of a fan of the Swede. The same can't be said for his wife Chris (Vicky Krieps), who adores Bergman and is thrilled to spend a week on the isle. While Tony shows off his work and fields phone calls from distressed Hollywood producers, Chris seeks artistic inspiration from the island and hangs out with a young film student (Hampus Nordenson).

bergman island review

And that's pretty much it, until the second half of the movie, when Chris tells her husband the plot of the movie she's currently writing. This sees the film play out the narrative of the fictional film, with Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie playing a struggling romantic couple, and later themselves. Fiction blends with reality as characters from the real world pop up in Chris's story and vice versa. But none of it is remotely interesting. Chris's story is a snoozefest within a snoozefest. The relationship between Chris and Tony is so poorly sketched that we have no idea of the status of their marriage. Is it on the rocks or are they completely comfortable with one another? I have no idea. Hansen-Løve reportedly wrote the film while breaking up with Olivier Assayas, but none of her experience seems to have bled onto the page, and certainly isn't present on the screen.

Bergman Island is on MUBI UK now.

2022 movie reviews