TIFF ’21: ‘Bergman Island’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Ingmar Bergman is one of the best filmmakers of all time. The way he presented life with all it’s flaws, darkness, trauma, and horrors is something that he brought to the screen so well. Cinema served as a stage for hauntings of the soul and battles against psychological and spiritual demons for Bergman. So to have an entire island dedicated to his life’s work, was interesting to explore. Mia Hansen-Løve Bergman Island is very charming, sweet and has an in-depth look at relationship dynamics. She captures the beauty of the island and the history of Bergman quite effortlessly throughout the film.

We have a husband and a wife, both writers, who are at two very different stages in their career. Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth) head to the island to find some seclusion and inspiration for their writing. We see Chris’s in-development script come to life: a bittersweet love story starring Amy (Mia Wasikowska), a young filmmaker and obvious alter ego to Chris, who is reunited with her first love Joseph (Anders Danielsen Lie). Before the audience goes on the adventure with Chris’s new story, we get to understand the dynamic between husband and wife. And how Chris does not want to conform to putting her work on the back-burner in order to be a good housewife and raise her kids.

What sacrifices do women make for their career? Why are they seen as sacrifices, but when men dive into their work and neglect their paternal duties, no one questions it? Much like Bergman, who had more than two wives, and many children, but a full body of work to be praised. There are many questions raised on this journey with Chris. Then, as she retells the outline of the story to her husband, we get this beautiful, heart-breaking romance, that makes the second half of the film the most interesting. Is it possible to love two people at the same time? If so, how is that love divide, what factors define the choice of being with both people?

There are many questions about love and relationships explored in Bergman Island that affect you more deeply because of the way Hansen-Løve structured the story. She created intimacy between Amy and Joseph, moreso than Chris and Tony. It was as if the lust, love, and tension, between husband and wife was projected in their work, rather than with each other. Where exactly is the divide between the artist and the actual person. Hansen-Løve did a fantastic job blending Bergman’s auteurist traits with her own in this layered story of love, life, and artistry.

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