Bergman Island — Escapism for Yuppies

Mia Wasikowska in Berman Island. (IFC Films) Culture-vulture lives matter in Hansen-Love’s banal flick.

Mia Hansen-Love’s new yuppie romance Bergman Island breaks one of my few moviemaking rules: Never use a clip from a movie you cannot match or surpass. In Bergman Island, Hansen-Love includes a scene from Ingmar Bergman’s 1972 Cries and Whispers — a close-up where Ingrid Thulin howls in torment then is briefly comforted by Liv Ullmann’s caress, a sympathetic duet played out to the palpable strum of a Bach saraband for unaccompanied cello.

Nothing else in Bergman Island has comparable emotional or aesthetic weight. That Bergman clip makes Hansen-Love’s idle conceit shrivel into insignificance, as it should. Bergman Island is a movie that had no good reason to be made; it’s the latest example of the privileged-class art follies now flooding the festival circuit (its American premiere was at the recent 59th New York Film Festival) where programmers, publicists, and media lackeys reinforce their shared delusions — in this case, the artistic pretense that accompanies social decline.

Bergman Island isn’t good enough to be called art, but it’s just trivial enough to expose the fallacies of this cultural moment. Hansen-Love’s story

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