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Black Bear review: Aubrey Plaza is brilliant as film-maker Allison | Films | Entertainment

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But for me, Black Bear is more of a bugbear. Indie films about indie film-making should be catnip to the movie nerd but I’ve always found them gratingly self-indulgent. This one didn’t change my mind which was a shame as the first half is rather brilliant. It opens with film-maker Allison (an excellent Aubrey Plaza) arriving at a rural artists’ retreat where she’s met by the venue’s owner Gabe (Christopher Abbott).

The pair flirt on the long walk to the main building but the crackling chemistry begins to fizzle out when they run into Blair (Sarah Gadon), Gabe’s pregnant and exasperated partner.

A few glasses of wine later and their gentle snipes are giving way to a simmering resentment.

Allison seems amused by the couple’s bickering and could even be stoking the flames with her seemingly innocent intercessions and double-edged compliments. Then, suddenly, Levine fades to black, hits the reset button and begins telling a completely different story.

Now we’re on a film set, the same actors are playing different characters and Levine seems to be trying to make a clever point about, oh the irony, the self-indulgent nature of art.

It’s intriguing for a while but once you realise the film is nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is, you’re just left with smug in-jokes about film-making.

By the time we get to the annoyingly enigmatic ending, it’s disappeared up its own fundament.


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