“There’s a world outside of your own asshole,” the groom-to-be tells Amy (Mia Wasikowska), a friend of the bridge at the fictional wedding set on the very real island of Fårö, the final home of revered filmmaker Ingmar Bergman – and the setting of Chris’ (Vicky Krieps) new screenplay where Amy is the protagonist.
The ‘story-within-a-story’ that is intertwined with Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island is that of fraught love at an idyllic wedding, parenthesised by the meditative tale of a screenwriter (Krieps) and director (Tim Roth) couple coming to grips with their creativity and differing opinions on filmography of the titular auteur.
The groom’s description, targeted not at Wasikowska’s character, but at her borderline fetishistic treatment of Bergman’s life and works brings welcome self-awareness to a subject that Hansen-Løve has an apparent reverence for.
In essence, both parts of the story deal with apathy in relationships, and passion spurned by indecision and frustration; Amy tries to rekindle love with a withdrawn childhood crush and Chris, her author, struggles through writing it – “Like getting blood from a stone,” she puts it in cliche. All the while, her requests to Roth for creative advice are dismissed and she longs for their daughter.
However, despite a wealth of emotional meat on the bones, little beyond the shared setting and peppered references that give viewers a crash course on the likes of Through A Glass Darkly and Scenes From A Marriage give much by way of thematic resonance. Though, for better or worse, an ambience of peacefulness is in abundance.