Follow TV Tropes


Film / Blackbear

Go To
Black Bear is a 2020 drama film written and directed by Lawrence Michael Levine. It stars Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon and Paola Lázaro.

The plot concerns a famous actress and director, Allison (Plaza) who arrives at a secluded bed and breakfast in the mountains run by a husband and wife, Gabe (Abott) and Blair (Gadon), who are having marriage difficulties amidst Blair's pregnancy. Things go in unexpected directions.


  • Affectionate Nickname: Allison calls Gabe "Bear" in the second half of the movie.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Allison sees a black bear and walks towards it. Cut to black. We don't know for certain what that means.
  • Awful Wedded Life: In both halves.
    • In the first half, Blair and Gabe were living in Brooklyn until their unsteady jobs (as a dancer and a musician, respectively) and an unexpected pregnancy did not allow them to live there anymore and got them to move to a secluded place where they reluctantly started a bed and breakfast and hold animosity towards one another.
    • Advertisement:
    • In the second half, Allison is an actress in her husband's, Gabe, next movie. Gabe had been manipulating her for the shootings to try to get her perturbed in ways that would make her acting more real, and Allison, as expected of someone perturbed, becomes a nightmare to work with, leaving the crew uncomfortable.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with Allison sitting beside the foggy lake, retiring to her bedroom, and writing the title of the film in a notebook.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • The film is called Black Bear and that is the name Allison, a filmmaker, writes in her notebook. The title cards are cursive writing on lined paper.
    • The film inverts itself in the second half, suddenly becoming a film within a film.
    • Allison looks at the camera in the final shot.
  • Domestic Abuse: Of the emotional kind in the second half. Gabe has been having an affair with Blair and dropped hints about it to Allison to get her sufficiently disturbed and upset to make her performance in the movie more real. After Allison has a breakdown shooting the final scene of their movie, Gabe blames her for wanting to be the star and just tells her to use her breakdown in her acting.
  • Advertisement:
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-Universe. Gabe pretends to actually cheat on Allison to make her paranoid and make her acting like a wife afraid of a woman that might take her husband away more realistic, to the damage of her psyche.
  • Foreshadowing: Allison admits that the reason she wasn't hired for acting anymore is that she was difficult to work with. The second half portrays her as a difficult actress, though partly due to the fact Gabe manipulates her into it.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Blaire and Allison each become jealous of the other in each half of the film.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The film begins with Allison as a Hollywood actress and filmmaker staying at a B&B run by Gabe and Blaire. In the second half, the trio are making a film with a plot that echoes the first half, but this time, Gabe is the director and the women have switched roles.
  • Hourglass Plot: In the first half, Blair and Gabe are stuck in a bad marriage while Allison is an interesting outsider whom Blair fears might seduce her husband. In the second half, Allison and Gabe are the ones in a bad marriage, while Blair is an actress receiving preferential treatment from Gabe and whom Allison fears might be seducing him.
  • One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Blaire insists that the doctor told her she could have a drink now and then, but Gabe insists that she's drinking far too much.
  • Mad Artist: In the second half, Gabe. Although not in the psychopathic type usual for this trope, he gaslights and psychologically abuses his wife to get her to be a better actor in her movie, culminating in her mental and emotional breakdown in the climax of the movie, which is recorded.
  • Meta Fiction: The second half of the movie, is basically the first half of the movie, but now being recorded as a film within a film, with Allison playing the role that Blair had in the first film while Blair now does the same for her. The film within the film is also called Black Bear.
  • Mind Screw: The movie is totally different in its two halves, with no clear indication as to which is real or even if one of them is real. The end of part 2 cuts to the opening of the movie, with no indication that these parts even actually happened. For all the viewer knows, everything just happened in Allison's mind, as she exists in the first half, thinking up ideas for a movie.
  • Minimalist Cast: The first half of the movie includes only the three central characters, stuck together in the B&B. The second half subverts this, as there's an entire crew making the movie.
  • The Namesake: Played with. There are actually black bears appearing in the movie, but "Black Bear" is the title of the movie Gabe is shooting during the second half of the movie. Bear also turns out to be Gabe's nickname in the second half.
  • Running Gag: During the second half of the movie, people keep spilling their coffee.