MICKEY AND THE BEAR – Review by Diane Carson

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Mickey and the Bear offers a mature profile of 18-year-old Mickey.

The teenage years of high school pose ample challenges for just about anyone anywhere. For eighteen-year-old high school senior Mickey Peck, in small town Anaconda, Montana, life is immeasurably complicated by her widowed father Hank, a possessive Iraq Marine vet with PTSD. Caught in emotional warfare, she struggles to fight her way out of a dead-end situation.

Emotionally torn between her demanding boyfriend Aron and the more sensitive U.K. transplant Wyatt, an aspiring musician, Mickey attempts to negotiate what seems, for all the world, an unrealizable independent future. Meantime she scrambles to get Hank needed oxycontin, involving her in several serious situations with a conscientious social worker. As resilient as she is desperate, as determined as she is bewildered, Mickey has all the promise of a smart young woman and none of the support needed to realize it.

In an understated metaphor, Mickey works as an assistant taxidermist, with several scenes that feature predatory animals not unlike those who populate her world. Praise in that regard goes to James Badge Dale as Hank. Dale doesn’t hold back from making himself a physically and emotionally distasteful character. As Mickey, Camila Morrone gives a perfect performance, making the complex Mickey completely believable even as she segues through a wide range of reactions to upsetting developments. One scene late in the film (no spoilers) is particularly fraught with disturbing behavior, and Morrone handles it with convincing poise. It should be noted that she’s a credit to her stepfather Al Pacino.

Similarly, kudos to writer/director Annabelle Attanasio, her father Paul Attanasio is well known for his screenplays for Quiz Show and Donnie Brasco. Carefully observed, refusing to sensationalize the daily rhythms and emotional difficulties Mickey faces, Attanasio, in her debut feature Mickey and the Bear, shows a mature handling of interpersonal dynamics.

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Diane Carson

Diane Carson, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, has reviewed films for over 25 years and has covered the Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, Palm Springs, and Sundance festivals. She writes for KDHX, 88.1 FM. St. Louis’ community radio. One of the founders of the St. Louis International Film Festival, she continues to serve on juries. A past president of the University Film and Video Association, she taught film studies and production at St. Louis Community College and at Webster University. Her new book, written with two colleagues, is “Appetites and Anxieties: Food, Film, and the Politics of Representation,” Wayne State U. Press, 2014.