This past Thursday saw the announcement of the official selection at 2021’s Cannes Film Festival and kicked off the customary interim period prior to opening night, during which the big-ticket films try to drum up buzz by unveiling their first trailers. Not 24 hours after the long-gestating Bergman Island was confirmed for a Competition slot, the patient public got their first real look at the expressionistic drama with an inimitable setting for its backdrop.
Mia Hansen-Løve makes her return to the Croisette for the first time since her 2009 breakout Father of My Children with an ambitious portrait of dissatisfaction and escapism, filled out with some world-class stars. The film takes us to the Swedish island of Faro, reputed once as the home of Ingmar Bergman and now a sort of lasting shrine to the great filmmaker, for the attempted reconciliation of a strained couple that may instead drive them apart.
A pair of directors, one slightly more reputed (Tim Roth) than the other (Vicky Krieps), travel to the island in hopes of soaking up any lingering genius in the air so that they might finish their respective screenplays. But frictions between them are exacerbated by the atmosphere on Faro – they stay in the bed said to have launched a thousand divorces – and a retreat into fantasy soon cleaves the film in two.
The script Krieps is working on soon takes over the narrative, revolving around another young woman (Mia Wasikowska) sorting through her dynamic with her man (Anders Danielsen Lie), and inviting the audience to wonder about the membrane between her life and her work. In turn, that line of questioning can also be applied to Hansen-Løve herself, a former half of a two-cineaste relationship with Olivier Assayas.
Fans of the Double Life of Veronique (a favorite of Wasikowska’s) and Bergman’s assorted takes on fractured identities as wish fulfillment will find plenty to pore over in this dense and beguiling film, sure to be one of the marquee debuts at Cannes this year. If nothing else, it announces Hansen-Løve as a major talent on the world stage, a long-awaited affirmation after her last film Maya couldn’t even get distribution in the US.
Published 5 Jun 2021
The French writer/director discusses how moviemaking can be an act of pure personal expression.
We journey to Fårö, a remote island in the Baltic Sea, in search of Sweden’s enigmatic master.
Fifty years on, this low-key drama stands as a glorious shrine to analogue film.