In the Great North, near the North Pole, in a modern town where about two hundred souls live precariously in minus fifty weather, and where roads lead to nowhere but the endless white, Lucy (Tatiana Maslany) and Roman (Dane DeHaan), two young tormented souls, fell in love. But now, ghosts from Lucy’s past are coming back, and she needs to run away or she will burn. Together, these lovers decide to make a leap for life, a leap for inner peace. They head out in the Great White, where the strangeness makes one feel he is travelling inside of himself.
Being Canadian, I always jump on the opportunity to see Canadian films. This is an interesting one since it was filled way up north in Iqaluit, Nunavut. This one is about a pair of broken people named Lucy (Maslany) and Roman (DeHaan) who both ended up in a remote, northern town in order to escape their pasts. They’re troubled because of their pasts but the film barely alludes to it. Along with the fact that we don’t really know anything about them makes both characters come off as shallow.
Roman did not get much of a backstory compared to Lucy where she had to deal with some mysterious person from her past showing up and not leaving her alone. The film doesn’t go into this aspect of her life thus leaving loom in the background for no reason. The driving force of the plot happened when Lucy was accepted into a Biology program, forcing her to leave Roman.
This sent him onto a downward spiral, where he became more distant and hostile towards Lucy. Her impending departure creates a cloud over them, affecting the way the acted around one another. When one night goes too far, Roman is sent to a far away recovery center. Despite everything, Lucy chooses to spend all her money to go to him, sacrificing her opportunity. They then both take their snowmobiles and go on an adventure and get away from their problems, leading them to an abandoned military facility.
Even without the lack of background, their relationship still felt real because of the chemistry between the two. The plot may not have always been there but Lucy and Roman were still fun to watch together. They were evidently in love with another but the film also implied that it hadn’t been for long. The bear in the title came from a bear which Roman and then Lucy ran into a few times, voiced by Gordon Pinsent. The film alluded that the bear had a relationship with Roman but failed to clearly explain this relationship or even why it was there in the first place.
This was a beautiful film to look at thanks to the cinematography, highlighting the beauty that is the Canadian arctic, making it feel very immersive. The performances from Maslany and DeHaan were good with their chemistry made up for the plot’s shortcomings. Their depictions of each of their characters’ troubled nature were compelling but could have been better if the film had gone further. Pinsent was fun as the bear but he was wasted due to him barely being in the film and to the fact that he served little to no purpose.
Overall, this was a decent drama, set in a unique landscape, with a messy plot that is elevated by the performances of Maslany and DeHaan.