You may need a PhD in Ingmar Bergman to understand all the nuances of “Bergman Island” from French writer and director Mia Hansen-Løve. Still, the Academy’s writer’s branch may have enough qualifications to embrace its charming history. Even with some delightful performances from its cast ensemble, including Mia Wasikowska in her best acting effort to date, the little indie flick will no doubt face some significant challenges during awards season. Distributor IFC Films will need to be very specific with voting groups to encourage members to give the film its true value. Will they succeed in this quest? This remains to be determined.
“Bergman Island” tells the story of Tony and Chris, who retreat to the island that inspired legendary director and writer Ingmar Bergman. There, they write screenplays for their next films, but the reality and fiction start to fade as the weekend continues.
The Oscars love movies on movies, as we’ve seen with past winners like “Argo” and “Birdman”. This will therefore serve as a gateway to the IFC to exploit to get butt in the seats during screenings (if there are screenings with peaks of COVID). The Academy has already nominated small films for an original screenplay, such as “Margin Call” by JC Chandor and “The Savages” by Tamara Jenkins. Still, these are usually morning surprises for Oscar nominations. I don’t know if that would be a mirrored trajectory, but it will have to be a talking point as the season progresses to have a chance to shoot the name.
With a cast as talented as this one, you’d think there would be a better chance of gaining attention, but with the larger Academy branch weighing in on this run, they would need some help. additional from key pioneering groups. Australian actress Wasikowska has been a relentless and dynamic presence in Hollywood for over a decade. Obtaining her first piece of notoriety in the best film nominated “The Kids Are Alright”, she proved to be a box office juggernaut (“Alice in Wonderland”) and a brilliant independent performer (“Stoker”). However, not afraid to lay her soul bare, the supporting actress would be a much more interesting area if she included her stunning execution.
Tim Roth, who hasn’t been nominated since “Rob Roy” over 25 years ago, has presented himself as an actor who is effortlessly good at his craft; it almost hurts him when brought up in a discussion about rewards. The rest of her co-stars, Vicky Krieps and Anders Danielsen Lie, are advantageous in their scenes and add to the color of the cast that the SAG Awards would be smart to consider.
For Hansen-Løve, she has been a staple in the narrow, independent space of feature films, with past films such as “Things to Come” with Isabelle Huppert being one of his most notable. The base could expand considerably thanks to what she’s doing on “Bergman Island,” and writers may be drawn to the seductive dialogue and the framing of key scenes. It’s an uphill battle that IFC is ready and should take with the feel.
If the good guys finish last, we don’t know where the great authors and filmmakers rank on such a list. “Bergman Island” can begin this discussion accordingly.
“Bergman Island” is screened at the Telluride Film Festival and hits theaters on October 15th.