By Megan Bianco
One has to assume the origin of Mia Hansen-Løve’s new film, Bergman Island, was loosely inspired by her own past relationship with fellow filmmaker Olivier Assayas, as the two main characters in the movie are a working filmmaker and his supportive wife.
On top of that, we also get a story-within-the-movie subplot with the female lead’s character inspired by her own issues. And in between all of this, there are some pretty clear callbacks to the classics of the man himself, Ingmar Bergman.
While on a “business trip” that’s actually moonlighting as more of a vacation, Tony Sanders (Tim Roth) and wife, Chris (Vicky Krieps), are visiting the Swedish island of Fårö for a festival screening of Tony’s new movie.
Fårö itself is also popular as the home of respected filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, and naturally Tony is interested in seeing all the landmarks and tourist attractions. Chris, on the other hand, is less a fan of the Swede and currently feeling conflicted over being away from their young daughter, as well as having her own bout of writer’s block.
Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie appear as Chris’ characters from the story she’s having trouble finishing through fantasy sequences.
Bergman Island is full of talent, from the writer-director to the international cast, all of whom are utilized very well. This is one of the better examples of an artist clearly imitating their own life with their work, and it doesn’t come across as indulgent or tedious.
At one point, we even get a character casually referred to as the actor’s first name, as if the director is winking and showing us how deep she can break the fourth wall.
Bergman Island is Hansen-Løve at her best since her previous critical hit, Things to Come (2016), and pays homage from a modern legend to a historical one.