Bad News Bear

The cold is the least of Tatiana Maslany’s problems

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Two Lovers and a Bear
Coming Soon
rating-3-5

In spite of the wide acclaim (and a freakin’ Emmy) for her work in Orphan Black, Regina’s Tatiana Maslany has insisted in developing a movie career in Canada. This year alone, Maslany stars in two homemade films, the Toronto-set psychological thriller The Other Half and Two Lovers and a Bear, a bleak melodrama shot almost entirely in Nunavut.

Maslany is Lucy, an Iqaluit cab driver about to leave town to pursue a higher education in the city. Her decision effectively devastates boyfriend Roman (Dane DeHaan, Chronicle), who embarks on a self-destructive journey to the bottom (not his first). Far from indifferent, Lucy attempts to rescue Roman from himself, putting her future on the line.

Further hindering the possibility of a happy ending are Roman and Lucy’s mental issues. Roman may or may not be psychotic (he speaks with polar bears), while Lucy is literally haunted by her abusive father.

Committed performances by Maslany and DeHaan raise the stakes. Director Kim Nguyen (Rebelle: War Witch) makes good use of the seldom-filmed province and creates some evocative scenes (one involving a herd of caribou frozen to death sticks with you). He even manages a genuinely thrilling sequence that gets you to the edge of the seat. When was the last time a Canadian film did that?

Two Lovers and a Bear also succeeds at portraying Iqaluit honestly. There’s nothing patronizing or touristy about it — a common trap when depicting lifestyles one is not well acquainted with. The film is not blind towards the intrinsic hardships of living in the area and incorporates such challenges organically. The dialogue is stilted at times, but it’s a minor problem in an otherwise successful film about tragic people unable to recognize when it’s time to let a loved one go.