TIFF Review: 'Bergman Island' Will Only Appeal to Ingmar Bergman Lovers Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Tim Roth, Vicky Krieps, Anders Danielsen Lie
TIFF Review: 'Bergman Island' Will Only Appeal to Ingmar Bergman Lovers Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve
5
Bergman Island is about Ingmar Bergman, and it will likely only be compelling to fans of the legendary filmmaker. Mia Hansen-Løve's Bergman Island is as much a love letter to the incorrigibly brilliant director Ingmar Bergman as it is a redefinition of Bergman-esque film, asking questions about whether a woman could do what Bergman did, and whether his same themes could be explored through a happier lens. Blurring the lines between fiction and reality, Hansen-Løve's film is a curious thing, flowing less like a linear story and more like a swelling pool.

Filmmaking couple Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth) come to the island of Fårö, where Bergman spent the last few years of his life, to work and to give talks. Tony is a widely-respected director, and almost condescending toward Chris, who is just as capable and recognized as he is. The film follows the couple's stay, focusing on Chris as she tries to write a movie about an iteration of herself. Chris's movie is embedded within this movie, and it stars Mia Wasikowska as Amy, who meets a childhood love at a friend's wedding and tries to reckon with her feelings. Chris wanders around the island as she works toward finding an ending for Amy's story in the shade of Bergman. 

The idea that there could never be a female Bergman is a compelling one to ponder, and this movie works to disprove this in a way that isn't antagonistic, but respectful. Hansen-Løve doesn't so much as want to show that Chris can do everything that Bergman did, but that she — in her own way as a woman and mother and wife and human — can create something just as worthwhile and compelling, something that deals with "masculine" ideas of psychological turmoil.

Amy's story is interesting and volatile. Wasiowska is compelling and fun to watch, but Chris and Tony's story is fairly boring, with too much left unsaid, still in the air, up for interpretation. Hansen-Løve is perhaps too subtle, but perhaps that's the point. Worthwhile for Bergman lovers, this is an interesting film that might excite or bore depending on your persuasion.

The 2021 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 9 to 18. Get info about in-person and online screenings at the festival website. (CG Cinéma)