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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Black Bear - Movie Review


The Movie: Black Bear

The Director: Lawrence Michael Levine

The Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Sarah Gadon, Christopher Abbott

The Story: A filmmaker at a creative impasse seeks solace from her tumultuous past at a rural retreat, only to find that the woods summon her inner demons in intense and surprising ways.


The Review:
After the first few minutes of this movie rolled across my screen, I was like what the F is happening right now. About halfway through the movie, I was like no really, what the F is happening right now. At the end of the movie, I sat there going what the F just happened and I was also like, yeah that was intense, confusing, emotional, and holy crap, I liked every moment of it.

Director and writer Lawrence Michael Levine explores the mind of a woman who is a director and a writer so I'm guessing he has some good insight into the subject matter. There's a few things I want to say about how the story plays out and how it presents a few different and distinct perspectives although I might be wading into spoiler territory so I'll leave a lot of it alone. Basically, Levine visually explores the psyche and emotions and struggles of a filmmaker, the character played by Aubrey Plaza, as she is trying to get her creative juices flowing.

We all know Aubrey Plaza for the type of edgy, hipster characters she plays and we all, or at least most of us, adore her for how well she does in those roles. I can't think of a person better suited to play characters who ooze attitude and rebel against just about anything that crosses their path. The character she plays in this movie is still within that world although Plaza is given so much more to work with and she knocks every moment of it right out of the park. Seriously, she absolutely kills it in so many different ways.

There is so much nuance and emotion and personality she has to navigate and it was beautiful to see how she tackled all of it in this bat poop crazy rollercoaster ride of a movie. Christopher Abbott co-stars in the movie and I think his character is at least as challenging of a role as Plaza's and he handles it all just as well. It was very interesting to see him take on two versions of the same person (you'll understand when you watch it) while escalating the intensity of the character when it's most needed.

The movie is also a commentary on the filmmaking process and what lengths directors will go to to get the performance they want from his or her cast. I mean seriously, the final act of the movie is such an intense sequence of events, I wish we all had the opportunity to share those moments together in a theater. I think the movie would have had even more of an impact in that format in a similar fashion as Whiplash although maybe not as stressful.


The Review:
Black Bear is a movie I struggle to describe in a single sentence and I mean that in a good way. Aubrey Plaza is fantastic in this movie and shows she has abilities far beyond anything we have seen from her before while still sticking to the formula that has brought her so much success.


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