Saturday, 29 July 2017

Brigsby Bear: NZIFF Review

Brigsby Bear: NZIFF Review

Mixing BE KIND REWIND mentality with traces of UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, BRIGSBY BEAR is a low key lo-fi tribute to 80s TV and fan culture.

But scratch below and underneath that, it's about something fundamentally deeper.

James Pope (Kyle Mooney) spends every day in his room, watching a show called Brigsby Bear, about a hero who saves the universe on a regular basis.
Brigsby Bear: NZIFF Review

Under the watchful eye of his parents (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) James obeys them and avoids leaving the house because of pollution in the air.

But one day, when he's taken from the only world he's known, he finds the only way to cope is to try and imbue others with the love of Brigsby Bear.

Essentially, Brigsby Bear will be seen by many as a quirky low beat comedy that sees a slight oddball having to reintegrate, and whose mouth lets loose some very odd things for laughable effect. (To say more is to spoil the journey, and while this hints there's a big reveal, it's perhaps pertinent to say there's not, merely to acknowledge much of what happens denies the film its MO).

But at its heart, this bittersweet film is about the ongoing effect of trauma, PTSD and ongoing coping with a momentous change in life that sees everything known uprooted.

In watching James try to fit back in, Kyle Mooney's underplaying of his re-assimilating and repeating phrases is entirely reminiscent of Agent Cooper's reincarnation in Dougie Jones in Twin Peaks' latest season.

Sure, there's a childlike naïveté at play here as the infectious enthusiasm for the show is spread around (in that way that the uncool becomes retro cool), but there are also signs that James is a deeply traumatised individual who despite the coaxing around him is unable to cope with his return.

Granted those involved don't ladle on the undertones here and the subtlety pays off in swathes, but at its core,there's an undeniable sadness and rebirth at play here and it's conflicting to see it play out.

At the end of the day, Brigsby Bear is blessed with an innocence of execution which is both charming and deeply upsetting. Its central message is powerful and it's to be hoped what it's saying isn't lost on audiences willing to look past its quirks and charms.

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