Mickey and The Bear Review – Excellent Compelling Character Driven Performances Propel This Indie

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Mickey and The Bear, from Utopia, presents the heartbreaking reality faced by many families, of returning Afghanistan vets who suffer debilitating Post Traumatic Stress, while trying to break free and make a life of the shattered fragments life has become.

Directed and written by Annabelle Attanasio, Mickey and The Bear stars Camila Morrone, James Badge Dale, Calvin Demba, Ben Rosenfeld, and Rebecca Henderson.

The film begins with a close-up of a sleeping girl, when a drip of water falls on her, the water slowly continues to drip until she awakens, and the camera pulls back and we see her small room and a broken skylight.


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Just as the girl is fixing breakfast the local Sheriff knocks on the door, and she is rushing with him to the local police station, where we met Hank Peck, played by James Badge Dale, and realize he has been arrested for driving under the influence, again.

Making sure he gets home, and fed, Mickey Peck, played by Camila Morrone, just months from graduating high school, is playing the part of caregiver, and parenting her father. His mental illness and PTSD is a concern to everyone except him. He is sedated with a cocktail of prescriptions.

Set in Montana, the town could be Kentucky, Arkansas, New Mexico or any number of depressed small towns across the United States, where returning veterans come back to simply expecting loyalty from the government and realizing the return on the investment provides little dividends.

Mickey who we see as someone on the cusp of adulthood, with graduation and college on the horizon she is allowing herself to go along with the status quo. Her current boyfriend, Aron Church, played by Ben Rosenfield, a local, from a solid family who is already working at his Dad's store and soon, is expecting to be promoted.


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His life, as he sees it is set, working in the store, marriage to Mickey, children and growing old right here. He is also a druggie and one afternoon, while eyeing the selection of vials, he swallows the remainder of Hank's OxyContin. His boldness, he thought would endear himself to Mickey, who just realized what she will need to do in order to keep Hank from killing himself or someone else.

This act ushers in trouble for Mickey as she tries to first to talk with the doctor, Dr. Watkins, played by Rebecca Henderson, and asks her to refill the prescription and when she won't she breaks into her office and steals a blank prescription. Just as she thought she had found a solution Dr. Watkins stops her and explains we're having lunch or I'm calling the police. It was a voice of reason in the middle of chaos.

A new kid shows up at school, Wyatt, played by Calvin Demba, a classically trained musician from the UK, accepted to the San Francisco Conservatory and so unlike anything Mickey had ever met, someone who didn't known her Dad's violent reputation, a creative who sees potential, through the eyes of someone who has seen a larger part of the world. As the two get closer, her future, which she had been planning secretly, keeping the details from her dad, seems right.


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Mickey and The Bear is a sad indictment on many issues facing veterans today, and more so their families. Life, at times, has a way of wielding the one-two knock-out punch, and for some it is easier to stay down then to pull oneself up by the bootstraps and try again or at least compartmentalize until the issues are easier to handle.

The film is extremely well down, with character driven performances that translate on screen. The energy is palpable, the injury, the mental illness and abuse tactics are crystal clear.

Written by Annabelle Attanasio, the film has been playing the festival circuit to much acclaim and has already won four different awards. I found the story compelling, the acting well done, the story line a sad indictment of poverty and the prison of hopelessness a small town can have on those with big dreams or even the hope of normalcy.


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There is a clarity with each of these characters, as the options for existence and more so the chance to escape the confinement of other people's opinions. The boundaries of the town obviously couldn't expand enough to hold her dreams or to allow her a different path.

Mickey and The Bear opens November 13, 2019. See it.

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