Tony (Tim Roth) is a successful American filmmaker who made the pilgrimage to the island of Faro in Sweden, where Ingmar Bergman lived, worked and made some of his best films. His wife Chris (Vicky Krieps) has also come. She hopes that staying with the master filmmaker will help her start her script; she hasn’t figured out how to end it. She stands on the sidelines when Tony, a celebrity, is showered with praise from attendees at a filmmaking workshop.
Bergman’s creative presence haunted Americans when they learned he had six wives and nine children. They each take separate workspaces to focus on their projects, but he’s more productive than they are. When he goes on a “Bergman Safari” to locations from his films, she meets a young Swedish film student (Hampus Nordenson), who gives her a well-rounded picture of the light and dark sides of the creative genius, whose 30 films touch both spiritual and spiritual psychologically serious issues.
After the Swedish writer and director Mia Hansen-Love showed us the couple’s various explorations on the island of Faro, she switched gears. Chris asks Tony to listen to and criticize the script she wrote. This film in the film shows Amy (Mia Wasikowska) and Joseph (Anders Danielsen Lie), who had a love affair years ago and who are drawn back to each other at a friend’s wedding in Faro.
The stay on Bergman’s island puts the American filmmakers in a pensive mood, which Hansen-Love’s script conveys wonderfully. She sees the imagination as the creative force within artists who try to recreate their experiences and explore the multiple mysteries of love. Her characters here examine both their calling and their relationship.
Why do you want to make films and are they up to the challenge? Why, asks Chris, is the creative process so difficult? She confesses to her supportive husband that writing is pure agony for her. But something draws her to this work and especially to Bergman’s work. After seeing Bergman’s screams and whispers in his screening room, the two assess the impact on them:
“Chris: It’s like a horror film without catharsis. Usually after a horror film you feel calm because you know that what you have just seen cannot happen to you. Not with screams and whispers: the loneliness, the agony, horror, dying – that’s how things are.
“Tony: It’s a dream … more of a nightmare.
“Chris: I just hope [Bergman] had more fun in his life than in his movies. Why are its characters so terrible? Why does he never show a tenderness of lightness?
“Tony: He wasn’t interested in being bright. It was dark and he wanted to explore that. It was fun for him.
“Chris: Why didn’t he even want to explore happiness? Check out this place – its houses, the island, beautiful landscapes. Everything is less harsh than in his films. . .
Films can be terribly sad, harsh, violent, but in the end they are good for you.
“Tony: Then why are you looking at them?
“Chris: I love her. I just don’t know why.”
And maybe that’s the point of this beautifully shot and implemented film. You will also wonder why you love movies.
Bergman Island will be screened at the 59th New York Film Festival.