• Strictly Films

Black Bear Quick View; Grade: B


Black Bear tells a story about a film maker named Allison (Aubrey Plaza), whom goes on a rural retreat to find some inspiration towards her next project. Within the woods on this single location, will bring out the inner demons between Allison and the rest of people there.

Aubrey Plaza truly wow’d me with Ingrid Goes West back in 2017, as I got a sense that she would capture that similar vibe with this brand new comedic drama. Black Bear is told in two parts, both being two completely different stories, however does capture the same narrative in some way. When the first part ended, I was kind of thrown off as it shifted to a whole new story, however t’was similar referring to narrative structure and location. Regardless that I was indeed thrown off, I didn’t lose any sight of interest, in fact I felt both parts complimented each other well as one whole narrative, despite they didn’t have no connection with each other.

The first part of the story was honestly pretty good, I enjoyed the off setting tone, as Aubrey Plaza was honestly born to play this character Allison. Allison has a dry and dark sense of humor in which you can’t clearly read her at all, but is care free and easy to be around. Allison’s interaction with the couple Gabe (Christopher Abbott) and Blair (Sarah Gadon) were extremely fascinating, especially when it came to conversations about gender roles and how lack of structure has made a poor impact on current day. Felt real and raw, as you can understand both sides between Blair and Gabe’s different point of view, where you can find something to agree and disagree on both views. Gabe arguably won the conversation simply by handling his own emotions, while Blair couldn’t maintain her emotions, causing her point of view to not hold any value as she wild out. The ending of the first part finished extremely strong, as you honestly wanted to experience more, as you want to see where everyone ends up at the end of the story.

The second part of the story while having no connection or continuation within the first part, was honestly surprising as it still was pretty enjoyable. This time around our leading actors have switched their roles, only it’s played on a set as this was definitely much darker than the first part. Just watching Allison drown herself in alcohol, while Blair and Gabe do whatever it takes to bring out a side in Allison, so she can perform accordingly to the script was pretty upsetting. It brings up the discussion of where exactly does the line cross towards directors, achieving a certain goal from their actors, as this has been an ongoing issue on dysfunctional film sets. A good director does challenge their actors to achieve a certain emotion, however basically mentally abusing the other to achieve it is rather unacceptable. How it was wrapped up is almost the same as the first part, I didn’t care for the Bear appearance as appeared when wrapping up as it left me unsatisfied.


It’s hard to pin point what was the whole point of this film, as it’s unsure if it has any moral meaning or message. It does bring up some interesting conversations and even the capability of how much can be done in one location, still I struggle to find a message with this entire thing, but still was a very satisfying watch from both narratives. Black Bear is also catered by lovely cinematography, a solid composed score, great performances by Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, and Sarah Gadon. What I really enjoyed about Black Bear is it’s entirely unique and original, as it’s a film in which you haven’t experience before. I hope Aubrey Plaza does more films like this, it’s truly a treat seeing her do stories as weird but good in quality like this and Ingrid Goes West, definitely a talented actress when given the right material. I’m interested in seeing what kind of reactions this shall get, but for me... It’s work out well.

Overall, Black Bear t’was a strong solid film. I highly recommend checking this one out, won’t say it’s for everybody, it’s definitely weird but a good weird indeed. -Mitch Smietana


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