In the very Northern part of Canada, where not much happens and people do as best they can to survive and entertain themselves, two damaged but passionate souls in love are trying to make it and better their lives. Written and directed by Kim Nguyen, based on an original idea by Louis Grenier, the film follows the lives of two young adults fighting inner demons and rough past and trying to love each other and do what is best for each other. Their struggles feel rather real and the way they push and pull at each other grabs the viewer and brings them in. The characters built feel like actual people, filled with issues and difficulties, self-loathing and worries.
The little bits of happiness that come their way are what keep them and the viewer going with the story. These two characters and others have conversations that are believable and make sense for each other. Even one character that will be surprising makes sense in how he speaks and comes across. In the two leads are Tatiana Maslany as Lucy and Dane DeHaan as Roman. Both of them give great performances with nuanced emotions and just the right amount of sadness for each. Their gloom and doom way fits the story and is not over done. Maslany is particularly good here, acting like many older, more experienced actresses would love to be able to. She is plenty experienced for her age, but this is something one would expect from someone older or even more experienced.
She hits all the emotional notes and does not push anything too far. Her restraint helps her character feel human and helps her connect with the viewer. DeHaan shows a tad less restraints but it works for his part. The cinematography by Nicolas Bolduc takes full advantage of the locations and makes the environment feel cold, freezing even, and shows the natural beauty of the North. The way he shoots snow and snow dunes is something that is breathtaking and calming at once. Teaming up with this in some scenes and adding to the acting and the whole package are the visual effects by Rodeo FX. A particular scene, where the dunes look to be breathing is absolutely fantastic.
The music by Jesse Zubot is subdued mostly and it works beautifully well with the images on screen, adding to the emotional impact without pushing it too hard or turning schmaltzy. Two Lovers and a Bear is one of those dramas that subtly grabs the viewer and doesn’t let them go until its last frame. The performances drive the story and the emotional impact of the film. This is one that is absolutely worth seeing and on the big screen if possible at all for its fantastic shots of the Great Canadian North and to almost feel the cold the characters evolve in. The film is sad and does not try to create a fake hope for its characters. It’s real, a bit raw, and it works.