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Bergman Island: A gorgeously shot, thin story

Les films du losange

Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve

Stars- Vicky Krieps, Mia Wasikowska, Tim Roth and Anders Danielsen Lie

There’s is no question that Mia Hansen-Løve is a talented filmmaker, and that clearly throughout her career legendary director Ingmar Bergman had a great level of influence. So combining elements of both Hansen-Løve’s own personal story, while sharing to the audiences facts about Bergman on the very island he called home- Faro. This led to one of the most beautifully shot, thematically dry movies of the year.

An American filmmaking couple retreats to the island for the summer to each write screenplays for their upcoming films in an act of pilgrimage to the place that inspired Bergman.

The writing is clearly strong, as Hansen-Løve carved out strong meta like backgrounds for our two leads, played by Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction), and Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread). These characters are very clearly based on Mia and her previous boyfriend director Olivier Assayas. Both characters feel as human as people can be in a film, they’re flawed, imperfect, and have rationale behind their decisions. The subtle hints of a failing relationship between the two filmmakers is gently scattered in as to not bop the viewer on the nose.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough story to go with Løve’s writing. No matter how many Bergman factoids were pieces together, nor is it bolstered much when we get the tad bit more interesting flash into Krieps’ character Chris’s screenplay. The screenplay focusing on a toxic on again off again relationship played by Mia Wasikowska, and Anders Danielsen Lies- is far more interesting and carries more weight than the main story we’re set on, but it comes far too late. By the time we’re transported into Chris’s screenplay, it’s too late, as the viewer is lulled into a relaxing state by the gorgeous views of Faro and the slow paced story that came before.

Technically, the film has plenty to like. It’s masterfully shot, and the score goes together hand in hand perfectly to echo the journey we get to experience around Faro. The camera decisions are great, and really focus on telling the emotions of our leads with just the smallest glance.

In the end Bergman Island is a pleasant mixture of Hansen-Loves own story and honouring one of film-makings biggest names. Theres plenty to enjoy on a technical level, and plenty of facts that any film lover will enjoy- but the idyllic pace and lack of a strong story make this one a forgettable one.


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