Glasgow Film Festival Review: Black Bear

We do not live in a meritocracy and there is no job sector where this is more evident than the film industry. It’s a vocation overpopulated by wealth, nepotism and privilege. A world in which Christopher Abbott casts a rather unique shadow, slowly working his way up and consistently impressing. Since his debut in Martha Marcy May Marlene a decade ago he’s amassed a formidable résumé (Possessor, It Comes at Night, Piercing, First Man, James White). Black Bear is a great addition.

At a remote lake house in the mountains, Gabe (Abbott) and his pregnant partner Blair (Sarah Gadon) welcome a filmmaker (Aubrey Plaza) into their home. Allison is seeking rest and relaxation. A break from her manic world. As the drink flows over dinner, it soon becomes obvious to Blair that Gabe is more than a little enamoured with the director, and the feeling seems mutual. Tension builds until events are unexpectedly turned on their head.

Black Bear is a twisty relationship drama which repeatedly defies expectations. Lawrence Michael Levine’s meta debauchery takes a number of elements and gleefully revels in repeatedly shaking them up. What makes it all work is the riveting pace, which never lets up, and a cast who seem to spark off each other. Black Bear is, at times, an exhilarating experience. Layered, intelligent and jagged storytelling.

Black Bear screens at Glasgow Film Festival and is released later in the year.  

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