‘Black Bear’ review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
When preparing for a film, actors and filmmakers do workshops. During the workshops, they might get ideas that define the film, but these peaceful retreats may bring out a few negatives. This is the case in actor and director Lawrence Michael Levine’s new comedy-drama-thriller film called Black Bear—which was shown in the Vancouver International Film Festival this year and at the Sundance Film Festival (before the coronavirus pandemic) and received positive responses.
In the beginning of the film, we meet three characters played by Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza, Alias Grace’s Sarah Gadon, and Christopher Abbott. While they get along at first, Plaza’s character doing method acting causes the retreat to go out of control. This leads to the chaotic second half of the film which reminded me of Shinichiro Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead (his follow-up film Special Actors was also shown in the festival this year).
During this section, it did show Plaza, Gadon, and Abbott’s ways of approach acting; but this section of the film also shows how method acting can go too far and might lead to a disaster. After the film, there is a conversation between the director of international programming at VIFF Alan Franey and Levine talking about what inspired him to make the film and why he chose the actors in the film.
Last week, there was live talk between Plaza, Gadon, and Abbott where they discuss their acting careers. Plaza talked about how working in a video store helped her find out about independent cinema and defined her career.
Black Bear might be released in limited release this December.