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Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2020
This film was only watchable because I am a huge Aubrey Plaza fan. In a blatant effort to be unique/Artsy, the film failed at showing me any interesting direction. Of course Aubrey is one of the most interesting actors out there, and she does keep your attention. She actually was the producer. However, this was one forgettable flick. I get what the dual storyline was trying to show, but entirely too much time was spent on the first half of the film. Two versions of how a bear cameos suddenly in the end of some really intense situations. Ok Write it down in a notebook... Really? That's it? Advertised subtly as thriller/drama, it was more of a comedy..with the joke being the audience. Aubrey does a really amazing performance, but to me, it's overshadowed by the storyline. Unbelievable character interactions, that can intentionally irritate you. You're dragged through uncomfortable relationship drama based emotional intensity that never gives you any relief. I guess they think that is clever? Nope, just just gets you asking yourself, why are you watching this? To top it off, The film reeks with self-indulgence by thinking the audience will really care about the over the top cliche depiction of the day in the life of a movie set...after being lured in by the hopes of a good Thriller. Someone please find some Pepto for this irrelevant girl! Jesus! Thankfully Aubrey makes that BEARable. Somehow I think she was in on the joke. Unfortunately, I was left really disappointed with this one. That said, I am on here using my time to write a review about it..so I guess they accomplished that. I just cannot recommend it to anyone, and hopefully will never spend my time watching it again.
Overwrought, self-indulgent, confusing waste of time. There is some (emphasis on "some") good acting to be had, but it can't save the overall experience. The entire production felt like a bunch of millennial and urban hipster pals in the film business got together to produce a shot of ego for themselves. The bear-in-the-bushes-shaking-shrubbery which repeated a couple of times over the course of the film provided the only humorous moments -- and not in a good way.
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2020
The shell premise of Black Bear is a classic story-within-a-story gimmick centered around the theme of "the artistic process" and exploring this on multiple levels. But the secondary themes woven into the film are what I thought were most thought-provoking. Underscoring traditional gender roles by equating male protectiveness and dominance with female jealousy and irrationality. Forcing on the viewer the subtleties, suspicions, and hostilities of conversations that we all pick up on but pretend not to notice. There is a great self-aware line by Plaza in the first chapter about how films are works of art that speak for themselves and don't need any outside explanation. That definitely applies here. And of course the acting is awesome.
Reviewed in the United States on December 24, 2020
So, to be more exact, my rating would probably be 4.5, if allowed. I'd be taking off the half star because in a couple of spots, especially in the first half, because I felt the story took a bit too long to get going, and second, I hardly ever give anything five stars on principle. Overall, though, I think anyone who is giving this a low rating is just unable to grasp how much complexity they expertly pulled off. Like most people, I was drawn to the movie because I'm a fan on Aubrey Plaza (and her acting is great), and upon first watching thought the story itself was just competent. However, after thinking about it for a while, I realized that whoever the core creator of the film was (whether Aubrey or a particular writer or director) was actually pretty brilliant. I don't want to give spoliers, but would just say I think this movie does an extremely good job of juxtaposing the battle of determining what is reality vs fantasy in our modern, hyper-connected world. The core character (creator) seems to be desperately fighting to find a "true" truth within both the real world and art (of which can't ever be sure which is really which), and in the end, comes to the very wise meta-conclusion that the outside world (the bear) can actually be either good or bad, depending on how you react to it. And that, in turn, gives you the "true" truth... it's never in the outside worlds' labels. The sheer logistical, strategic and artistic skill needed to bring an independently creative vision like this to a professionally finished product is pretty impressive. Check it out, when you're ready to be a little introspective on what this... all of this... actually means.
The amount of emotion this one person had to exert during a this short film speaks volumes to Plaza's talent as an actress, it's definitely "different" but I loved it all the same. If you feel that you have an artistic mind that doesn't want to watch the same old thing, then do yourself a favor and throw this on and enjoy the emotional rollercoaster.
Let me begin by saying that I have thoroughly enjoyed Aubrey Plaza's work on TV in Parks & Rec, and in films like Safety Not Guaranteed and Ingrid Goes West. However, despite an interesting performance by Plaza in this film, the movie is an ugly and self-indulgent mess. The Black Bear is divided into two parts with a brief epilog at the conclusion of the film. Throughout 99% of this annoying film all viewers see are selfish, dishonest, and extremely irritating people endlessly argue, cheat on each other, and otherwise act in ways that make you want them to simply go away. I fully realize that films can be of value when characters in them are unlovable. However, the folks in this movie are just annoying and distasteful to such an extent that it is very hard to keep yourself from pulling the plug on the broadcast. Save the rental or purchase price and stay away from this tangled mess of a film based on the neuroses of people you would never want to meet in real life.