Parents' Guide to

Black Bear

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Brainy, puzzling meta-movie has sex, drinking, swearing.

Movie R 2020 105 minutes
Black Bear Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 1 parent review

age 17+

Excellent, powerful movie. Should be rated R.

I wouldn’t show this to anyone under the age of 17. It’s not just that there is graphic sexual content, drinking, drug use, and swearing. It’s also that the movie is tough to understand for adults, much less for children or teenagers. I thoroughly enjoyed it but even something as subtle as the themes and the dialogue make it a very adult film, through and through.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

A split-personality meta-movie for film fans with a bit more contextual knowledge than average, this drama is filled with intriguing ideas, as well as thoughtful characters and potent performances. Lawrence Michael Levine's Black Bear is a puzzle that challenges viewers to determine what the two halves have to do with one another, what it all means (if anything), and how the bear fits into it. It's the kind of movie that uses the word "solipsism." The movie's first half is mostly a talky soap opera, tense, as characters react to each other's dialogue with agitation and defiance. But it's filmed with intimacy and flow, and it's as emotional as it is brainy.

The second half, while presumably happening in "reality," is far soapier, with more outsized emotions and erratic behaviors, combined with the chaos of a film shoot that's slowly going off the rails. (Terms like "the martini" are used, which may tickle viewers with insider experience.) All of this allows the actors -- especially Plaza -- plenty of space to explore and find amazing edges and curves for their performances. Black Bear wrestles with themes of creativity and male and female power, including a discussion of how the world has gone downhill after the "erosion of traditional gender roles," but perhaps its ultimate point is that, no matter how smart we think we are, nature is in charge.

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