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  • Writer's pictureSteve

Bergman Island (2021)

So, this had some heady shoes to fill from the get-go, largely dependent upon whether you're a Bergman fan or not. Personally, I can take him or leave him and am perhaps unforgivably ambivalent, but still, I can't quite shake the notion that art is ever quite so literal as it is here.

Having no notion of the content or the story prior to sitting down with this, I didn't immediately make the connection between what was coming on screen and the famous Scandinavian film director. This was soon rammed down my throat and I immediately began to realise why this was being released now, given the hugely lauded and successful HBO mini-series of 'Scenes From A Marriage' starring Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac, written by none other than Bergman himself.

The Swedish travelogue that was to take up the first half of the film almost entirely busied itself with 'what to do when you're in Fårö', the alleged inspiration for much of Bergman's work and the location for many of his films. Our leads became almost superfluous to the memory of one of the island's greatest sons, so much so that their work vagaries and the relationship they were sharing became little more than footnotes to what the Swedish Tourist Board really wanted to see.

Laboured is an understatement if you're not too concerned about the last place the great man broke wind or how many times he breathed in and out on a Tuesday. Extreme and entirely fabricated examples, but you get the point. If I was so desperate to become embroiled in Bergman, I would have just gone there myself. Instead, I felt like I was being both lectured to and at the same time dismissed by a film that doesn't care two hoots about its audience.


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