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October 15, 2021

Bergman Island

bergmn island.jpg

Mia Hansen-Love - 2021
IFC Films

Tony and Chris are introduced driving with the aid of their car's GPS to the Swedish island, Faro. While the couple may have a sense of their physical destination, the are stuck professionally, hoping to find some inspiration in the place best known as the home and sometime shooting location for Ingmar Bergman. This is one bit of humor as the husband and wife are both film directors, recieving direction from a computerized voice. While Tony is methodical and mostly serious, Chris tends to be more playful and spontaneous. There is a sense of foreboding when the local caretaker points out that their rented cottage was where Bergman filmed Scenes from a Marriage.

There is irony that the filmmaker considered to be intellectually and artistically intimidating has a legacy of also being a tourist attraction. A Bergman Safari bus takes visitors to various shooting locations. Chris visits Bergman's grave, conspicuous in its distance within the cemetery as well as being marked by the smallest stone. Chris and Tony even make a point of watching Cries and Whispers in Bergman's screening room. Counter to this is discussion of Bergman's personal life, with wives, lovers and children of less importance than the prolific work on screen and stage.

The film breaks from being about Tony and Chris to scenes of the film Chris is writing, about a younger couple reuniting for a few days at a mutual friend's wedding, also in Faro. Hansen-Love cuts between Chris telling her story to Tony with the scenes of her characters, primarily Amy who is still in love with Joseph after several years of not seeing each other. The film cuts again from Chris uncertain about how to end her story to a scene indicating that her story has been made into a film. Through Chris, Hansen-Love appears to be saying that one can admire Ingmar Bergman as a filmmaker, but a film exploring happiness can be just as artistically meaningful as one that is dark and serious.

As Tony and Chris, Tim Roth and Vickie Krieps appear relaxed with each other, as a couple who have lived together long enough to know each others idiosyncrasies. Mia Wasikowska appears as Amy, both as Chris's imagined protagonist and then as the actress portraying her. The film, like Hansen-Love's other work is partially autobiographical, here in its broadest outlines of the filmmaking couple and the director's own visits to Faro. The references to Bergman's films are hardly esoteric although familiarity with key titles is useful. Rather than using an original score, much of the sweet soundtrack is from instrumental music by Robin Williamson, best known as a member of The Incredible String Band.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 15, 2021 06:17 AM