University applications, college admissions, prom and graduation. Transitioning from teenage-hood to the fateful conversion of becoming an adult can be a nerve wracking experience! For Mickey however, this is the least of her worries….
Annabelle Attanasio’s directorial debut Mickey and the Bear is somber tale of coming of age and the dangerous effects of toxic relationships. Taken place in the outskirts of small, hillbilly town in Montana, we follow 18-year old Mickey Peck, as she navigates her way out of her community of crummy boyfriends, restrictive health services, and a mentally-ill father figure. What begins as a substandard coming of age story of the aforementioned transition into adulthood; the film instead slowly unravels itself into a product that’s equal parts risky and timely.
Mickey and the Bear is a film primarily about the cycles of abuse and the bi-product of a lack of mental health awareness and avocation in smaller communities. Mickey is put into numerous confrontations with her unstable father, where we observe her perspective deteriorate, alongside with her sanity and social life. Attanasio’s vision is bleak, yet hopeful for Mickey’s future. With Camila Morrone and James Badge Dale at the helm of these two polar opposite individuals, we witness a strenuous battle of disappointment and abuse from both sides of the spectrum; the victim and the oppressor. Sufferers of such struggles are often times underrepresented in most conversations regarding youth and mental health, and even more so in media and entertainment. Thankfully, the film respects and reflects on these topics, without any offensive results.
The problem with Mickey and the Bear, is everything in between it’s commentary and observational point of view. The film is highly predictable with it’s high school drama, to point where it feels like a beat-by-beat replica of some other familiar flicks. Regardless of the excellent buildup to the film’s harrowing conclusion, it’s hard to dismiss the film’s lackluster supporting characters, when all that was really necessary to plot, was Hank and Mickey’s character dynamic.
Powerful in concept, yet lackluster in execution, Mickey and the Bear is an average debut — from a director whose destined to create great things in the near future — that could have easily been a 40-minute short. Morrone’s performance is particularly spellbinding, as we witness her character fall through the damages of a repetitive cycle of constant, penetrating misconduct. Underwhelming, but gratifyingly satisfying, Mickey and the Bear is a film bound to spark discussions and internet forums on the film’s brave and sensitive subject matter.
Mickey and the Bear screened at this year’s Festival Du Nouveau Cinema. Utopia will release the film in select cinemas on November 13th