Cannes 74: ‘Bergman Island’ Review
Conventionally, Jerusalem is to a priest what the Swedish island of Fåro is to a filmmaker. A filmmaker is, customarily, meant to worship Ingmar Bergman, revered as Cinema’s greatest God. That filmmaker, in Mia Hansen-Løve’s latest film, is played by Tim Roth, who goes in pilgrimage to Bergmanland with his wife and fellow filmmaker Chris for a retrospective on his career- and to boost both their creativity.
Staying in the house which served as a location for Scenes from a Marriage, “responsible for the divorce of half a million people”, Bergman’s darkness begins to infuse the couple’s relationship. Sharing shades in the opening of the film, they quickly begin to part ways and mind their own business once landed on Fåro. Everything on the island is Bergman: his properties, streets, posters, pictures, museums, quizzes, cinemas, apps, and even a Bergman Safari bus tour. The quiet and barren Fåro is transformed into a theme park. People from all over the world stare in absolute awe for each rock or tree that happened to be captured and immortalised by Bergman’s camera. Yet Chris is not Bergman’s greatest fangirl. She has never seen The Seventh Seal, and she is disappointed by Bergman not being an exceptional family man - unlike her husband Tony, who is an expert disciple of the Swedish filmmaker. He is in fact enlightened by Fåro’s atmosphere, while she struggles to complete her screenplay. When she seeks for her husband’s creative support, a story within a story unfolds.
I must admit, the Bergman Safari Bus tour was already quite interesting on its own, but the plot gets richer and richer. Love, and its forbidden ungraspable quality, juggles with both the real and fictional couple, but unlike Bergman’s filmography this film is filled with a delicate humour. After all, life is not just black & white, but rather a mixture of greys, like in dear Ingmar’s masterpieces. Despite having a fed up autochthone shouting “Fuck Bergman” (is it even allowed to say such a blasphemy in the Palais du Cinema?) the film doesn’t ridicule Bergman’s hardcore fandom: they (we) do it themselves.
P.S. Why the hell are they writing a screenplay using Microsoft Word?!