DVD Review: Two Lovers and a Bear

By , Contributor
There are some breathtaking images captured in writer-director Kim Nguyen's Two Lovers and a Bear. The film is set in isolated, far north Canadian town of Iqaluit, Nunavut, with the Arctic tundra providing exceptionally photogenic scenery. A 30-ish couple, Roman (Dane DeHaan, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Lucy (Tatiana Maslany), lives quietly in Iqaluit. They ice fish, go snowmobiling, and drink to while away the time. And Roman can talk to bears. When Lucy announces her plans to travel south to partake in a university program, Roman falls into a suicidal depression.

And yes, Roman can literally talk to bears. Or at least one benevolent polar bear in particular (voiced drolly by Gordon Pinsent). Lest you assume this is an imaginary bear, other characters can see it too. But only Roman hears him. Director Nguyen doesn't incorporate this idea to extremely positive effect, but it is nonetheless intriguing. So is the mysterious man who "follows" Lucy, turning up unpredictably to terrify her out of her wits. These touches of surrealism keep Two Lovers from being too dreary and depression (there is, after all, an extended scene in which Roman holds a loaded shotgun to his chin). 

Two Lovers and a Bear 1.jpg Ultimately, the adult lives of Roman and Lucy are defined by the abuse they both endured as children. Perhaps the greatest strength in Nguyen's approach is the subtle ways he allows his characters' back stories to emerge. This leads to some deeply emotional moments that are well played by both DeHaan and Maslany. Their performances anchor the film, which is nearly devoid of conventional plot. Even so, what plot there is manages to be completely unpredictable right up until its haunting conclusion.

Two Lovers and a Bear is available on DVD via Fox Home Entertainment. The beautiful cinematography by Nicolas Bolduc would've undoubtedly benefited from a Blu-ray release, but Fox opted for standard DVD and Digital HD only. The disc is bare bones, with no special features.Those with a taste for defiantly off-beat films would do well to give it a spin.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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