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Film Review: Black Bear (2021)

IMDb Link: Black Bear (2020)
Director: Lawrence Michael Levine
Writer: Lawrence Michael Levine
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon

Synopsis: 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.

Lawrence Michael Levine has created a film that is structured in two parts, which in itself is an interesting concept. Whilst I am not sure whether the two parts blend together as nicely as it should, I was completely captivated by both parts. This is a story that is much darker than on the surface, and explores some great themes within a narrative that is compelling for film fans.

This story is sold due to all of the performances within it. It is no surprise that Aubrey Plaza is the stand out, giving a performance that is complicated and extremely dramatic, but making it feel authentic and emotional. However, it is Christopher Abbott who continues to surprise after giving his third fantastic performance I have seen from him this year, and is somebody you really need to keep an eye on with his upcoming releases.

The film has this unsettling tone running throughout, even though the film never delves fully into the horror or thriller genre. Instead, this unsettling tone has a major impact on the narrative, looming over both parts of the film. The narrative itself is not anything revolutionary, but the way that it is presented is fresh and gives a good look into the craft of making a film. This is done incredibly well by the writing, as well as the technical elements including the production design and cinematography.

This is a film that does not feel like its runtime at all. Even with the pacing issues and the split narrative that does not fully work for me, I have to commend the editing for having the film go by as quickly as it does, and managing to make sense of a script like this. The editing also helps dial the tone up and create this atmosphere, creating a unique viewing experience that is hard to make of in a first watch, but something that is easy to appreciate.

This is certainly not going to be a film for everyone, and I can accept that. However, it is one that I am craving a second watch for as I want to see how effective the film is knowing the structure and end of the story. On a first watch though, it is gripping and takes you on a journey, unlike any other film I have seen in the past year. Make sure to keep your eyes out when it officially releases.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Black Bear is available to watch on digital from April 23rd.

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