SXSW 2019 – Review: MICKEY AND THE BEAR Will Send You Into Hibernation

FIRST IMPRESSION

Despite the two great performances at the film's core, Mickey and the Bear largely disappoints because it is otherwise bland and safe.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

Mickey and the Bear is a new drama film written and directed by Annabelle Attanasio. The movie tells the story of a young girl who must decide between her obligations to her drug-addicted father and following her own aspirations to move away from home for college. It made its debut at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this film is that the story is just so straightforward. There really isn’t that much complexity in the story itself, with a majority of the depth coming from the performances. The focus of the movie isn’t really on the plot, but on the characters and the way they are affected by the events that occur.

That being said, for a character study like this to be compelling, the characters have to be extremely well-written, and this film just doesn’t have that going for it. The characters adhere far too closely to their archetypes to be particularly interesting. They also don’t experience very much of an arc, as they begin and end the movie in pretty much the same emotional state.

The film is definitely very underdeveloped thematically. There are hints of interesting themes that pop up in the movie every once in a while, but they are never explored fully in any satisfying way. For example, the film could have said something more profound about the veterans’ crisis we are facing in America right now, but much of this material is left implicit.

The pacing of the movie is also quite weak. At a certain point, the film starts to feel quite repetitive and almost redundant. Although the situations do change, the emotional beats are the same thing over and over again until you feel like you are getting beaten over your head with depression. The movie is less than an hour and a half long, but it feels much longer.

That being said, the reason that this film is worthy of note is the performances. Camila Morrone and James Badge Dale both light up the screen. After this and Never Goin’ Back, Morrone has proven that she is a formidable talent. She needs to continue getting lead roles, as her performance almost certainly elevates the movie. Badge Dale is great as the protagonist’s father, brilliantly capturing the character’s dual personality.

On a technical level, the film was mostly forgettable. There wasn’t anything special happening in terms of execution. There is no flair in the cinematography, editing, or score. The focus is placed firmly on the actors and their performances rather than the more cinematic elements of the movie or the script, as everything but the actors was admittedly average.

Overall, Mickey and the Bear was a mediocre film saved by two great performances. Were it not for the work of these two great actors, the movie would have been a huge disappointment.

Mickey and the Bear debuted at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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