Cannes Film Festival: Two Lovers and a Bear

Director’s Fortnight
Two Lovers and a Bear

Directed by Kim Nguyen
Starring Dane DeHaan and Tatiana Maslany

by Joanna Orland

Two Lovers and a Bear is not your typical love story, obviously.  Set in the Canadian Arctic, the film tells the story of Roman (DeHaan) and Lucy (Maslany), two lovers who find a connection in spite of, or perhaps because of, the issues each has with their father.  Their love is a youthful naive one as they believe that love can conquer all – even their demons.  What begins as the juvenile love story of Roman and Lucy strays into something much more interesting as the film dips its toe into a variety of genres, boldly taking influence directly from such films as The Thing and 127 Hours.

Both Roman and Lucy outwardly display their emotional damage as director Nguyen bypasses subtlety in his character development.  DeHaan and Maslany do an excellent job of portraying their characters’ innocent love and codependency on each other.  There is something inspiring in their belief of love being able to conquer all, but the naivete of that notion keeps coming back to haunt them – mostly in the form of their personal demons.

The film builds the relationship between Roman and Lucy very slowly and almost dully to the point where the lovers decide to journey south together.  It is in this final stretch of the film that it becomes something more substantial, taking the naive love story and making it truly sentimental through abstract imagery and blatant metaphor.  The journey has already been a physically challenging one for the two lovers, but when they get caught in a blizzard, they seek refuge in an abandoned nuclear shelter which appears to be something out of the cold war era or a certain John Carpenter movie.  The pastiche horror references allude to the fact that Tatiana’s demons are following her, much as Roman’s are following him – the bear.  Whether the bear represents Roman’s subconscious, his version of God or his spirit animal, the bear’s first appearance is when this film truly comes into its own as something much more multilayered than what is first demonstrated.

On the surface, Two Lovers and a Bear is a seemingly normal and slightly dull indie love story.  But through its beautiful imagery and poignant final frames, it resonates like no other.


Our interview with Dane DeHaan.

Dane DeHaan

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