A prominent filmmaking couple (Tim Roth & Vicky Krieps) seeking inspiration for their next projects, take up residence on the remote island where the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman created most of his films, even going so far as to rent the house where the auteur wrote and filmed Scenes from a Marriage.

They spend the first half of the movie getting oriented, taking the Bergman tour, and mostly working apart. Then about an hour in, things take on a different angle when she starts to narrate to him the unfinished project she’s stuck on. There begins a film-within-a-film, featuring Mia Wasikowska and some thorny romantic problems. The intrigue begins when the line between reality and fiction begins to blur, and characters from one start popping up in the other.

There’s an understated wistfulness throughout Mia Hansen-Love’s subtle and ingenious shell game of a movie that hides how much is going on, and it’s this ambiguousness that gives the film its tension. 

Clearly this is not for everyone, and serious cineastes will like it best. And while you don’t need to be a Bergman aficionado to appreciate it, a glance at Wikipedia before going in would be a very good idea. (112 min)