This intoxicating, abrasive film by writer director Michael Lawrence Levine boasts a captivating, firebrand central performance from Aubrey Plaza and should appeal to fans of Charlie Kaufman or Josephine Decker’s recent Shirley.
The plot starts out as what seems like a traditional American indie film set-up; the enigmatic, inscrutable Allison (Plaza) arrives at the expansive, luxurious woodland lodge of affluent, attractive couple Gabe (Christopher Abbott, recently seen in Possessor) and Blair (Sarah Gadon). Allison is a friend of a friend for the couple, and has come to the lodge as a sort of retreat. Her arrival has an immediate effect on Gabe and Blair, and there is a potent, passive aggressive psychosexual charge surrounding the trio, which comes to a head over the course of one heated, wine-fuelled evening.
There is a Meta element at play in Black Bear, which while vital to the film’s power, would be a disservice to the film to spoil. A tricksy puzzle box that defies easy categorisation, this is an impressive, intense exploration of one woman’s psychological landscape (and beyond), anchored by a fearless, ferocious performance from Plaza.