Since bringing her signature deadpan sizzle to turns in “Ingrid Goes West,” “The Little Hours,” and “Safety Not Guaranteed,” Aubrey Plaza has succeeded in becoming a one-woman mini-genre unto herself. Because of her discerning choices of roles, her name indicates something about the tone, quality, and artistic ambitions of the films to which she lends her talents. From the intriguing new trailer for “Black Bear,” which premiered in the forward-looking NEXT section of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it looks as if Plaza has done it yet again.
Describing the film as “an intriguing and unexpected comedic thriller,” the official synopsis goes on to explain: “At a remote lake house in the Adirondack Mountains, a couple entertains an out-of-town guest looking for inspiration in her filmmaking. The group quickly falls into a calculated game of desire, manipulation, and jealousy, unaware of how dangerously convoluted their lives will soon become in the filmmaker’s pursuit of a work of art, which blurs the boundaries between autobiography and invention.”
The film also stars Christopher Abbott (“It Comes At Night,” “Girls”) and Sarah Gadon (“Alias Grace,” “True Detective”) in this torturous game of three-way chess. Halfway through, the trailer reveals a shot of a film crew on Plaza’s character, teasing a cerebral twist that suggests the film becomes a commentary on the nature of filmmaking. With Plaza playing a filmmaker, whether it’s a film within the film or a meta-theatrical bent about the making of “Black Bear” remains to be seen.
“Black Bear” was written and directed by Lawrence Michael Levine, who has appeared as an actor in indie projects such as “V/H/S/2,” Onur Tukel’s “Richard’s Wedding,” and Joe Swanberg’s “The Zone.” In addition to playing an acting role, he also wrote wife Sophia Takal’s critically beloved 2016 feature “Always Shine.” “Black Bear” is his fourth feature film as writer/director, after “Territory” (2005), “Gabi on the Roof in July” (2010), and “Wild Canaries” (2014).
In her glowing Sundance review, IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote, “For fans of Levine’s wife Sophia Takal’s work, this may feel familiar (the film is, after all, dedicated to the ‘Black Christmas’ filmmaker and the duo have long worked together over the course of their careers), though with a wickedly dark comedic spin. Fans of Takal’s revelatory ‘Always Shine’ will vibe to what Levine’s throwing down, as Allison and Blair spar and snip (and occasionally agree with each other), ostensibly in a low-simmering competition for Gabe’s affections. As Levine unravels clever jabs and jibes at current culture — few recent features have so smartly picked apart both feminism and caveman culture with such insight and humor — tenuous bonds break down.”
Momentum Pictures will release “Black Bear” on December 4. Check out the first trailer below.