Review: The Bear
by Jan Lumholdt
- Johannes Stjärne Nilsson’s short is an exquisite little morality tale about nature, instincts and blueberries
For decades, the integrity- and award-laden Swedish directing team comprising Johannes Stjärne Nilsson and Ola Simonsson has graced the most prestigious and fastidious of film festivals with short-film gems such as Nowhere Man, Hotel Rienne, and Woman and Gramophone. The duo is probably best known for Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers, whose main characters returned in a rare feature-length title, Sound of Noise [+see also:
film profile], again to great international acclaim.
The Bear, a 20-minute solo effort from Stjärne Nilsson, perfectly showcases the style and feel we have come to appreciate: sharp, clean images in the spirit of Jacques Tati or Roy Andersson, minimal, spot-on dialogue, and a somewhat surreal yet ultimately logical theme, in this case involving an affluent career woman out of her natural habitat.
The nameless and hapless woman (Norwegian actress Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, also seen in HBO’s Westworld) starts feeling several strange sensations throughout her working day: longingly looking out of the panoramic office window and into the serene wild, vividly imagining tearing at the throat of an annoyingly flirtatious colleague, and getting a severe craving for blueberries (a particularly good scene). She follows her instincts in the best and, possibly, only way she can – by buying herself a bear costume, getting into it and becoming as one with it.
The Bear is a moving morality tale, which is humanistic, humorous, and beautifully played and executed in every technical aspect. Thematically, it bears a slight kinship with this year’s Swedish Oscar candidate, Border [+see also:
interview: Ali Abbasi
film profile]. Indeed, this exquisite little contender may very well make its own way onto the shortlists.
The Bear was produced by Kostr-Film (Sweden) and Motlys (Norway), and screened at the Warsaw International Film Festival (where it had its world premiere) and the Uppsala International Short Film Festival (domestic premiere).
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