Film Review: “Black Bear” (2020)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Aubrey Plaza is one of the most interesting and gifted actors of our generation. Surprisingly, with her range of performances, according to IMDB, she has five awards only. Shame, isn’t it? “Ingrid Goes West” and “An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn” is testament to her talent in the cinematic world. But what she does in “Black Bear” is a whole different level; she is like the most precious gift that will never disappoint.

Written and directed by Lawrence Michael Levine, the movie is broken in two parts; Allison (brilliantly portrayed by Aubrey Plaza) is a writer, filmmaker and unsuccessful actor who wants to escape her vague environment in the lakeside home, owned by a charismatic couple, Gabe (Christopher Abbot) and his pregnant girlfriend, Blair (Sarah Gadon). Gabe, right from the start, did not hide his attraction to Allison whereas his girlfriend notes that down. But when the evening starts, their enthusiastic and philosophical discussion gets heated with an outcome that will certainly stun you. If not everything you see seemed enough, the main hero of the film arrives, a black bear.

Levine’s exquisite script does not provide any explanation or why this or that happens. What he does is throw three characters onto each other, like a barking dog running towards its bone. The bone here is the disturbing reality the trio must face. Gabe and Blair do not love each other or simply have nothing in common. Their despise towards each other grows every minute, while the guest and the host continue drinking wine. The turmoil of the night starts with Gabe, who seems to find in Allison a lost soul or muse sharing the same interest or values, which drives Blair insane. All that is masterfully delivered by the distinguished Plaza, a versatile Gadon, and Abbot, who does not fall behind in his attempt to catch up with the bravura performances of his lead peers.

Not to give away much, what “The Black Bear” does is intelligent and never stops to deliver a deliciously funny and engaging storyline that is filled with puzzles and metaphors. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s no need to understand the need of Allison to spend her vacation with strangers nor Gabe and Blair’s to open up their wounds to someone who can easily penetrate those wounds and begin to dig deeper until the moment when no one can fix the damage. Allison is as smart she could get but everything that happens in the film will question not only her sanity but yours too. Because the way it’s been structured is phenomenal with a bunch of room to improvise.

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