Aubrey Plaza has proven again that she is the Queen. In ‘Happiest Season’ she had such a magnetic impression that I along with everyone else wanted her character to end up with Kristin Stewart’s. And now, in Laurence Michael Levine’s ‘Black Bear’ she proves to be such a formidable actress that she makes the movie. I don’t know if it would have been as successful without her.
The film feels like a tricky puzzle. In the first half, we see a straightforward narrative about an actress/director who hires a cabin int he woods, a share-type situation with a young couple. Then things go awry. The second half turns totally meta, and for me to say anything else will ruin everything. Trust me – the less you know about the movie going in, the better.
It’s all a bit tricky, and to be honest with you, I don’t know if I fully understood everything that went on in the film. But maybe we weren’t meant to. The film is anchored by Plaza’s performance as Allison – she is sly and slithering but also vulnerable and needy. Again to say more would ruin it. I am now more than wager to follow Plaza’s next acting choices.
Can I be a Kristin Stewart fan even though I am not a big fan of the Twilight films? Or maybe I should say that I am a fan of hers despite the fact that I a not a fan of Twilight. Seriously, I think I have loved her in every movie I have ever seen her in – including her latest, Clea DuVall’s ‘Happiest Season.’ This year, there is a slew of Christmas movies with queer content from Netflix to Lifetime and this, which is streaming on Hulu, brought there after the pandemic. The film sounds right by my alley – a lesbian rom-com with all the bells and whistles.
I only like it, unfortunately. There was something about the energy of it that was a little bit more low-key than I wanted, and I thought Stewart didn’t have much chemistry with Mackenzie Davis, who plays Harper. Stewart plays Abby, who gets ;invited’ to Harper’s family’s Christmas celebration. The hitch, of course, is that en route there, Harper confesses that not only is she not out to her family, Abby now has to pretend to be her roommate. The situation gets worse when they arrive, and Abby becomes the doormat of all doormats with Harper and her family treating her like crap. First of all, the whole set up feels like it’s 2010, and isn’t Pittsburgh progressive? Didn’t Biden win the state by 180,000 votes? Thank God there’s Aubrey plaza’s Riley, a lesbian ex of Harper who becomes Abby’s ally. There is more chemistry between Aubrey Plaza , who plays Riley and Stewart that you wish Abby ditches Harper for her.I found the film mostly enjoyable, or maybe tolerable. Stewart is obviously the star for me, but I have to say that the whole cast each gets moments – Alison Brie as Harper’s elder sister is a delight in all her scenes. And Dan levy is underused as Abby’s best friend. I wish I connected to it more, or believed more in Abby and Harper’s romance to make the film matter more to me.
I have to admit that, at some point, at some point I was getting addicted to Facebook. But I started to realize a lot of what I was reading was white noise. What I liked about Facebook was taking a slice of friends’ and acquaintances’ lives. But then everything else seem to have been dumped in there, and posts about politics drove me insane – with fake news on both sides, and I was starting to take political sides personally, like unfriending people who had opposite opinions. That’s when I started to pull back. I know where I stand, and don’t need to be convinced by it. I started to look at Facebook and concentrated more on Instagram where it’s a little less personal, and more private.
So what’s my point? I would like to think that I am a sane person. But what if a real certifiably crazy person gets obsessed with social media? That’s the story of Ingrid, the main character Ingrid on ‘Ingrid Goes West,’ which is Matt Spicer’s directorial debut. She is played by Aubrey Plaza. She really is a monster of a character but Plaza plays almost endearingly. When she reaches rock bottom, you feel sorry for her, even as you acknowledge everything she did to her Instagram obsession, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) From the ‘depths’ of her nowhere, she moves to California so she can insert herself into Taylor’s glamorous life. Think of it as the Kardashan syndrome. Then what happens to her? The film comes close to a modern morality tale, but the film has other plans.
I like the film a lot, enough to recommend to people. I am honest enough to admit that I sometimes get excited if I saw someone who I have been following on Instagram so I can relate to Ingrid. But probably not enough to move across the country to move for that person. As a film, you will connect and disconnect with different characters here. This film entertained and made me think.