Richard sits in with Beverly Thomson to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the boozy thriller “The Girl on the Train,” the courtroom drama “Denial,” the rebellious “The Birth of a Nation” and “Two Lovers and a Bear,” starring Tatiana Maslany.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Emily Blunt thriller “The Girl on the Train,” the Nate Parker historical drama “The Birth of a Nation,” Rachel Weisz in a slice of legal history called “Denial” and “Two Lovers and a Bear,” starring Tatiana Maslany.
The story of two star-crossed lovers on the run from bad memories is at the heart of Two Lovers and a Bear, a new Arctic-set film from Rebelle director Kim Nguyen.
Counselling the couple is a talking polar bear, a philosophical addition to a movie that is part romance, part thriller and all icy cold isolation.
Montreal native Nguyen says the script for the film evolved over time, but many of the elements, including the talking bear came to him on a stopover at the Amsterdam airport.
“I was reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami,” he says. “There are weird gods in the book, kind of like imperfect Greek gods with flaws. It dawned on me that I should have something like an imperfect, flawed deity in the film.”
At the same time he noticed the airport’s giant brass teddy bears and voilà, the idea of an advice-giving polar bear was born.
The bear, played by a real polar bear named Agee and voiced by acting legend Gordon Pinsent, is the most fanciful part of a film that sees Lucy and Roman, played by recent Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan, embark on a physical and metaphysical journey to confront their troubled, violent pasts.
“I’ve seen a lot of people like that,” Nguyen says of the people he met in Nunavut, “(people) who just can’t connect with an organized, dense, compact society. They have to go up North and that’s why you meet very interesting, unique characters up there. Often it is the people who don’t cope with societal norms.”
Nguyen’s unpredictable story intensifies with every twist, finding depth as the volatile Lucy and Roman explore the vast white expanse of their home and their innermost fears.
The lead actors have some heavy lifting to do to navigate the film’s many shifts from comedy, to psychological drama and isolationist horror.
To survive the inhospitable cold of their home both must be strong willed characters but both also wear their fragility on their parka sleeves. As such, Maslany and DeHaan are perfectly cast.
“We met a lot of people,” says Nguyen. “At the beginning it wasn’t defined exactly who Lucy was going to be; where she would come from. We wanted to keep it open with the casting. Tatiana came a little later on. We didn’t even think about her. Coming off of Orphan Black the casting director said, ‘Why don’t we try her? She’s versatile. She has range.’ She was gracious enough to do a screen test. She blew us away. She was totally way up there in the truthfulness and the authenticity. She is really someone who is able to connect. Kind of like Dane.
“I discovered Dane when I saw Place Beyond the Pines. When I saw that, I was certain that Dane wasn’t a trained actor. He was so authentic I assumed he was this guy who had this one role in him. Then I learned he was a trained actor and was really impressed by his performance.”
The six-week Nunavut shoot was gruelling for all, requiring physical stamina and a trait Nguyen calls “one of the biggest, most important qualities”— fearlessness.
“Dane and Tatiana have that,” says the director. “They dive in and they are not analyzing their performance as they’re playing it.”
The story of two star-crossed lovers on the run from bad memories is at the heart of “Two Lovers and a Bear,” a new film from “Rebelle” director Kim Nguyen. Counselling them is a talking polar bear, a philosophical addition to a movie that is part romance, part thriller and all icy cold isolation.
Set in Apex, Nunavut, just shy of the North Pole, “Two Lovers and a Bear” is the tale of Lucy (Tatiana Maslany) and Roman (Dane DeHaan), angst-ridden lovers, tormented by recollections of their abusive pasts. The mere thought of Lucy’s father inspires panic attacks and Roman finally put his violent father in the rear view mirror by fighting back and leaving home. Still the thought of it haunts him. When Lucy is accepted into a school program in the south, the pair split, only to be brought back together by tragedy. Together they embark on a journey that forces them to confront their pasts while solidifying their bond.
The emotional stakes rise throughout as Nguyen weaves together magic realism—the silky voice of the polar bear is supplied by Gordon Pinsent—romance and the hard realities of Northern life. It’s an unpredictable story that intensifies with every twist, finding depth as the volatile characters explore the vast white expanse of their home and their innermost fears.
Maslany and DeHaan are an intoxicating combination. Lucy and Roman are strong willed characters, they have to be to survive the inhospitable cold of their home, but both wear their fragility on their sleeves. Desperately in love, the couple can’t live without one another but, paradoxically, are bad for one another. That contradiction at the heart of their relationship feeds the narrative thrust of the film, binding the story’s mishmash of genres.
“Two Lovers and a Bear” covers the kind of troubled relationship we’ve seen in other indie films—two young lovers battling demons—but Nguyen’s bold use of the setting and the strong, naturalistic and soulful performances at the heart of the film make it quite unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. Today Tatiana Maslany, Dane DeHaan, Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and more stop by to talk about their new movies, “Two Lovers and a Bear” and “Denial.” Find out why Maslany was afraid of one of her “co-stars” and why Wilkinson doesn’t love doing interviews. C’mon in, sit a spell and hang out at the good old HoC!
Just before Tatiana Maslany flew to Los Angeles to accept an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Orphan Black I asked her what she’s been doing lately.
“I filmed the movie Stronger and since then I’ve been chillin’ hard,” she laughed.
The Regina, Saskatchewan-born actress may have taken some downtime over the summer, but that is likely the last time off she’ll see for the foreseeable future. Right now she defines the term ‘in demand,’ enjoying the kind of popularity usually reserved for the very top of the a-list. Her Emmy win lit the internet on fire, earning millions of mentions that made her the most talked about person on facebook and twitter that night. Currently she is shooting the last season of Orphan Black and has three movies set for release, including Stronger opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and next weekend’s Two Lovers and a Bear.
The Nunavut-shot film focuses on star-crossed lovers Lucy and Roman, played by Dane DeHaan and a talking bear. Veteran actor Gordon Pinsent lent his kindly voice to the polar bear, but Maslany says she was scared of Agee, the full-size adult female who played the carnivorous title character.
“She can smell women and doesn’t like them,” Maslany said of the bear who stands over seven feet when on her hind legs. “She’s a woman and doesn’t like them. She gets ‘Agee-tated.’ I’m so sorry about that.”
Maslany doesn’t want to discuss the movie’s twists and turns. Instead she’d like audiences to enjoy the story the way she did when she was offered the part of Lucy.
“I didn’t know what to expect at any moment when I read the script. It would flip from this very heavy romance to comedy and it sort of feels like sci fi or a thriller at the end.”
She will say her character has “a restlessness to her spirit and a need to find some stillness and peace and a desperate love of Roman. She can’t live without him and can’t be with him.”
Filmed over the course of six weeks on locations in Nunavut, the shoot for Two Lovers and a Bear was often unforgiving. “Our stills photographer lost chunks of his nose [due to the cold],” she says, but adds that shooting in the isolated location was invaluable to her performance.
“Just as having a real polar bear there,” she says, “being in the actual environment is so much easier and telling and informing in terms of character and how you move through the world. You understand more about why Roman and Lucy are the way they are by being there and living in that kind of environment. You see how two people could need each other so desperately and be the only thing the other has.”
“There are such vibrant youth there. It was really cool to be part of the community. I got to meet and be part of it and see their artwork. At the same time there are a lot of issues up there in terms of things from years back and systemic things. It has this bizarre duality to it.”
“I loved it up there,” she says. “I would go back in a heartbeat.”
Chances are good, however, given her workload and popularity she won’t have time to go North any time soon.
Richard hosted this panel that brought together filmmakers who have broken into the business with a first feature and successfully continued to make films. The directors will discuss how they crafted a career and captured attention in the evolving marketplace. How does a filmmaker deal with heightened expectations after the debut feature? Are there secrets to not only surviving, but thriving? What are the effective strategies for managing increasing budgets and new financing and creative partners?
Kim Nguyen was born in Montreal. His features Le Marais (02) and Rebelle (12) screened at the Festival. His other films include Truffe (08), La Cité (10), and the documentary Le nez (15). Two Lovers and a Bear (16) is his latest feature.
April Mullen was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She studied theatre at Ryerson University in Toronto and the Royal Welsh College of Drama in Cardiff. She has directed and acted in Dead Before Dawn 3D (12), 88 (15), and Farhope Tower (15). Below Her Mouth (16) is her latest feature.
Nathan Morlando was born in Toronto and holds a Master’s degree in philosophy. His film Edwin Boyd – Citizen Gangster (11) won the Best Canadian First Feature prize at the Festival. Mean Dreams (16) is his second feature.
Richard talks Cannes and Xavier Dolan with the Canadian Press.
“I think he’s got probably a pretty good shot certainly at being taken seriously as a contender, even thought he’s up against the who’s who of international filmmakers like Ken Loach, Pedro Almodovar, Paul Verhoeven, Sean Penn,” says Toronto-based film reviewer Richard Crouse.
“There are a lot of people here that are working at a very high level, but I’d suggest that Xavier Dolan is working at just as high a level.”