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#TIFF21 Review: Bergman Island (Gala Presentations)

September 16, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The latest from French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve, Bergman Island is a very enjoyable love letter of sorts to the work of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. The film is set on the Baltic island of Fårö, where the director lived and shot some of his most famous films, which has become a sort of cinephile tourist trap complete with a safari tour of Bergman’s filming locations.

The film follows Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth), a filmmaking couple vacationing on the island, where they get to watch original film prints in Bergman’s private screening room and sleep in the bed from Scenes From a Marriage, which is a fitting backdrop for the silent rift that is forming between the two. Tony is a popular director invited to give a talk on the Bergman’s work, while Chris is struggling to finish her latest screenplay, a romance drawing on elements of her own life and relationship.

The film finds its creative spark through Hansen-Løve’s choice to bring Chris’s screenplay to life as a movie-within-a-movie, morphing into a side story involving a young woman (Mia Wasikowska) being reunited with her crush Joseph (Anders Danielsen Lie) at a wedding on the island. And this narrative foray is somehow just as involving as the main plot. Hansen-Løve’s screenplay is sharply written at every turn, with engaging dialogue that includes some lively discussions of Bergman’s work.

Deftly balancing both the main story and this movie-within-a-movie, Hansen-Løve has crafted a pretty lovely piece of cinema with Bergman Island, which impresses in its writing, storytelling, and naturalistic performances. Krieps does very solid work in the leading role, and Roth is a natural fit as a slightly aloof director. Plus, good use of ABBA in a memorable dance scene.

Public Screenings:

Monday, September 13th – 9:30 PM at Roy Thomson Hall

Tuesday, September 14th – 7:00 PM at digital TIFF Bell Lightbox (Canada)

Saturday, September 18th – 9:00 PM at digital TIFF Bell Lightbox (Canada)

The 2021 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 9th to 18th.

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