Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
France/Belgium/Germany/Sweden/Mexico, 2021. Arte France Cinema, Barnstormer Productions, CG Cinéma, Dauphin Films, Film Capital Stockholm, Gotlands Filmfond, Neue Bioskop Film, Piano, Plattform Produktion, RT Features, Scope Pictures, Swedish Film Institute, Swedish Television, Talipot Studio. Screenplay by Mia Hansen-Løve. Cinematography by Denis Lenoir. Produced by Charles Gillibert, Erik Hemmendorff, Rodrigo Teixeira, Lisa Widén. Music by Raphael Hamburger. Production Design by Mikael Varhelyi. Costume Design by Judith de Luze, Julia Tegstrom. Film Editing by Marion Monnier.
Creativity as a struggle within the individual is pitted against the struggles of erotic love that bind two people together in this bewitching, two-ply tale of romance and cinema. Filmmakers Tim Roth and Vicky Krieps show up on the Swedish island of Fårö, most famous for its having become the residence of noted theatre and film director Ingmar Bergman after he discovered it while shooting his Oscar-winning 1961 film Through A Glass Darkly there. The couple have come to do a residency, staying in Bergman’s own house complete with screening room, while attending festival screenings of Roth’s films that play to audiences enamored with his oeuvre.
Roth’s work is going rather well and is interrupted by the odd off-screen meeting with promising investors for future projects, while Krieps, who sits writing in the window of the windmill on the property, is having a rough time with her new script, and her frustrations seep their way into how she communicates with her boyfriend. Upon request, she narrates her screenplay to him and enlists his help to figure out an ending, and we switch from the film we’re watching to the one Krieps is making, in which another director, this time played by Mia Wasikowska, comes to Fårö to attend a friend’s wedding and ends up reigniting a passionate affair with a former lover (Anders Danielsen Lie) for whom she still has potent feelings.
Mia Hansen-Løve’s confident ease in guiding these two stories compels you to stay with a series of characters and events that never show themselves as significant or astounding in any overt manner, but do maintain their tension and stakes within the pleasant atmosphere that both narratives take place in. As Roth goes on a “Bergman Safari” bus tour and visits the significant sites of many of the films that Bergman shot on his home island, Krieps enjoys an innocent, off-the-beaten-track afternoon with a kind stranger, the lightness of these sequences contrasted with the more powerful conflict between the lovers in the film within the film, but in neither layer is anything overstated.
Beautiful cinematography captures the bewitching qualities of Fårö that attracted the late, legendary artist to live there, and the charm of its residents is presented without ever condescending to caricature.
Cannes Film Festival: In Competition
Toronto International Film Festival: 2021