“That is your panorama, Bergman. It corresponds to your innermost imaginings of types, proportions, colours, horizons, sounds, silences, lights and reflections.” That’s Ingmar Bergman, in his memoir “The Magic Lantern,” rhapsodizing on his “secret love,” the island of Faro within the Baltic Sea. Beginning in 1960 with “Through a Glass Darkly,” he shot a lot of his movies on Faro and died there in 2007.
In “Bergman Island,” Mia Hansen-Love’s slippery and enchanting new film, Faro, an austere and forbidding presence in a lot of Bergman’s work, is revealed as a pilgrimage spot for cinephiles and an appealing seaside destination for much less obsessive vacationers. Guests can browse within the present store and the library, watch films in Bergman’s private screening room, or pile right into a bus for the guided “Bergman Safari” (an precise annual occasion). They will additionally swim, drink, play Ludo and store for sheepskins.
Chris (Vicki Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth) do a few of these issues, however they’ve come to Faro principally to work. Filmmakers with screenplays at varied levels of completion, they set up themselves within the cottage the place a few of “Scenes From a Marriage” was filmed. The caretaker who reveals them round cheerfully describes it as “the film that brought about thousands and thousands of individuals to divorce.” (I wonder if the recent HBO remake will have the same impact.)
An single couple with a younger daughter (she is staying with a grandmother whereas her dad and mom are in Sweden), Chris and Tony have maybe unwittingly arrived at a disaster of their relationship. They’re affectionate and straightforward with one another, however the mixture of Chris’s restlessness and Tony’s complacency means that issues will not be fairly proper between them.
In Bergman’s movies, love is a unstable aspect, as usually as not a catalyst for emotional anguish and psychological disintegration. A person and a lady in a film along with his title on it are unlikely to search out a lot peace. However Hansen-Love, although she is within the gloomy Swede and his legacy, is hardly in his thrall, and Chris and Tony don’t reside in something just like the state of metaphysical extremity that so usually afflicts Bergman characters.
Chris is a passionate film lover who’s nonetheless skeptical of the ability of the medium, and “Bergman Island” explores her ambivalence in a playful, vital spirit. She is concerned by the truth that Bergman, the daddy of 9 youngsters with six ladies, pursued his artwork on the expense of his household obligations. No lady would have been capable of get away with that, she says, a criticism that’s met with the standard shrugs, jokes and condescension from Tony and their dinner companions.
She acknowledges the distinction between artwork and life, however nonetheless needs for a measure of “coherence” between them. The potential for such a factor turns into greater than only a theoretical query within the second half of “Bergman Island,” when the as-yet-unmade movie that Chris remains to be struggling to jot down takes over the display screen.
That movie-within-the-movie, additionally set on Faro, includes a younger lady — additionally a filmmaker — named Amy (Mia Wasikowska), who travels to the island for the marriage of a pal and encounters Joseph (Anders Danielsen Lie), the nice love of her life. The 2 of them met as youngsters and all these years later, regardless that they’re dedicated to different individuals, discover that they simply can’t give up one another.
Their passionate, responsible romance — and Amy’s blondness — tilt the story nearer to Bergman territory than Chris and Tony’s passive-aggressive courtesies, however the extra apparent cinematic reference lies nearer to dwelling. Chris’s movie is in impact a sequel to Hansen-Love’s “Goodbye First Love,” which adopted adolescent lovers into younger maturity.
The connection between the film Chris goals up and the one she’s in appears each elusive and apparent, as do the attainable autobiographical implications of “Bergman Island.” Can it’s fully coincidental that Amy is a near-anagram of Mia, the title shared by Wasikowska and Hansen-Love? Is Tony a stand-in for Olivier Assayas, the French filmmaker with whom Hansen-Love has a toddler? Are we approaching Bergman’s panorama of doubling and collapsing identities from a special angle?
However there are additionally intriguing hints that Chris and Tony’s story could itself be a type of film-within-the-film, this one conjured out of Tony’s creativeness. When Chris asks about his challenge, he solutions that it’s concerning the unstated meanings that flow into by means of the every day lifetime of a pair, an outline that matches the primary half of “Bergman Island” virtually too neatly. He additionally explains, throughout a Q.-and-A. session after a screening of one in every of his films, that he tends to establish along with his feminine characters. Does this make Chris his alter ego?
To her credit score, Hansen-Love doesn’t flip “Bergman Island” right into a self-conscious philosophical puzzle. It unspools with a simple, fresh-air naturalism in opposition to a picturesque backdrop that doesn’t essentially conform to anybody’s innermost imaginings. The temper, underscored by Robin Williamson’s sprightly music, is especially comical, and the artists — Tony and Chris, at the very least — appear extra playful than tormented, even at tough moments.
That could be as a result of they each perceive the paradox that “Bergman Island” so brilliantly enacts. It’s a film that isn’t fairly certain whether or not it desires to be one, or which one it desires to be. Which makes it really feel like greater than only a film.
Rated R. Cries and whispers. Working time: 1 hour 52 minutes. In theaters.