There’s an entire subgenre of films that explore what can happen when you put a handful of attractive young people in a secluded cabin in the woods and, suffice to say, most of them aren’t necessarily light-hearted romps. As (darkly) funny as it may be, writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine’s Black Bear is a harrowing psychosexual drama, a “millennial spin on the Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? template,” as our own A.A. Dowd put it when he caught the film’s debut at Sundance. Impressively, Levine’s feature delves even deeper into this now-familiar formula, taking a rather meta look at what can happen when you cram a bunch of people into a small building in the middle of nowhere, making a precarious cocktail of romantic and professional dynamics. To further explore the disorienting twists and turns of Black Bear, The A.V. Club spoke with stars Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, and Sarah Gadon about tackling the film’s tricky two-narrative structure. The trio also shed some light on the maddening yet exhilarating “summer camp” production schedule, and shared why everyone was a little hesitant about trying the tilapia at dinner.
Note: The below interview contains spoilers for Black Bear, and discusses some of its final scenes, so we recommend you avoid reading any further until after you’ve seen the film.
In addition to the cast, we had the opportunity to dig deeper still with Black Bear writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine, whose marriage to another writer/director—Black Christmas and Always Shine’s Sofia Takal—inspired a lot of the questions and themes at play. Levine also explained how he found the film’s intimate setting, opened up about the blurred lines between fiction and real-life, and revealed the intention behind behind Black Bear’s ambiguous final frames.
Black Bear opens in select theaters and VOD platforms on December 4.