BLACK BEAR – A Review by Cynthia Flores

BLACK BEAR – A Review by Cynthia Flores

I told a friend of mine I absolutely loved this new arthouse film Black Bear from writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine. When asked what it was about, I told her, “I don’t know exactly, but it’s brilliant.” Few films can get this kind of reaction out of me since it’s my job to know what a movie is about. I know this is a breathtaking dramatic independent film that is a blast to watch.

Black Bear is a film done in two parts. Each has its own visual language. The first part is filmed with atmospheric cinematic framing that reminded me of old Akira Kurosawa films. And the second part is done in a more Cinema Verité style. Both have shared a fantastic score by Giulio Carmassi and Bryan Scary that would have been more at home in a big picture film.

Both parts of the film also share the same core leads. They just change character situations. The fantastic ensemble cast consists of Aubrey Plaza as Allison, Christopher Abbott as Gabe, and Sara Gadon as Blair. However, the film belongs to Aubrey Plaza. She gets to give a riveting performance that will keep your eyes glued to the screen. She gets to show off all her acting chops as the filmmaker Allison who is at a creative impasse.

When we first meet her, Allison is up at a remote lake house in the Adirondack seeking solace from her husband and working on her next project. Only to find that the young couple that run it will pull her into their drama. All this happens while a bear in the woods circles the home at night. It’s wildness calling to her own. As the film progresses in part two, Allison is the lead in an independent movie on its last shooting day. The set has as much going on behind the scenes as it does in front of the camera.

In the end, it’s up to you as the audience to decide. Which part of the film is the reality, and which is Allison’s creation as a writer/director/actress in the story? Black Bear is listed as a drama but has some hilarious momentum woven into its philosophical rants. It is such a satisfying bit of filmmaking.

I give Black Bear a 5-star rating. Catch it on the big screen or at home. But by all means, watch this film that is destined to make best-of lists for 2020.


Directed by: Lawrence Michael Levine

Written by: Lawrence Michael Levine

Rated: R

Selig Rating: 5 Stars

Running Time: 1hr 44min


Release: Select Theaters and VOD December 4th

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Sara Gadon, Christopher Abbott


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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