TIFF: “Bergman Island” Review

-Allison McCulloch

112 mins. | France/Belgium/Germany/Sweden/Mexico | 2021

Bergman Island is a movie for cinephiles. It stars Vicky Krieps as Chris and Tim Roth as Tony, a couple who are visiting Bergman Island (the Faroe Islands). She and Tony are staying in the same house where Scenes of a Marriage was filmed: “the movie that made millions of people divorce.”

Mia Hansen-Løve directed the film and wrote a script about a woman named Chris who is writing a script about a girl named Amy (Mia Wasikowska), who is the personification of Chris. Tony is also assumedly based on Mia Hansen-Løve’s baby-daddy Olivier Assayas (despite Roth being British and Assayas being French). Tony finds himself participating in Q&As when theaters show his work (much like Assayas would).

Since Bergman Island was made by a woman, the question is asked if a woman could even have the same output as Ingmar Bergman did. He had nine children by six women, and of course, he wasn’t responsible for the child-rearing. Chris has one child and can’t imagine making as many films as he did. Chris is also supposed to be a huge Bergman fan, but she hasn’t seen The Seventh Seal.

There’s an official tour of the island where we find Ingmar Bergman is buried with his wife, Ingrid (not the film star) and the vacant lot where they filmed Through a Glass Darkly.

What kept me watching this film was knowing that Mia Hansen-Løve was writing herself into the film and also finding the similarities between Chris and Amy: they both smoked, wore no bra, and had one child. Amy’s Joseph (Anders Danielsen Lie) turns up in Chris’ world as Anders. Also, the actor Hampus Nordenson makes appearances in both Amy and Chris’ worlds, blending the real and imagined. Also interesting/funny was the pretentious film guy who proclaimed, “Fuck Bergman.”

When the film ends, what happens to Chris probably informs how she’ll end her script and resolve things with Amy. However, we are not spoonfed and that is to be imagined. It’s an interesting watch, but is by no means a masterpiece. It’s definitely worth checking out for the atmosphere and mood if you’re into Bergman’s films or are curious to know more about his work.  

Vegan alert:
-Jellyfish are thrown
-Lots of lambskins are on display to be purchased
-Lamb burgers
-Tony feels sick after eating a lamb burger
-Amy makes a reference to the sheepskin

Vegan points:
Veggie burgers are an option.

Rating: 6/10

Follow Allison McCulloch on Twitter.

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