'Bear' by Nash Edgerton

Jack has the perfect birthday surprise planned for Emelie. But sometimes plans go horrifically wrong.

Bear is not a classic story of two lovers, two lovers fighting, two lovers making up, and two lovers living happily ever after. Jack, played by director Nash Edgerton, is a fuckup with a good heart. He also always seems to have something up his sleeve. The film begins with sage words from Jill, Jack’s ex-girlfriend who went all the way down the drain in Nash’s previous short film, Spider (which will go up on VICE next week). Unfortunately, Jack’s new girlfriend, Emelie, doesn’t know about his penchant for pranks and has no idea of the wild ride in store for her. Both Bear and Spider are crafted around the premise of a boyfriend messing up and attempting to right his wrong with a theatrical gesture.

Nash has been on the scene for some time, making his mark as an actor, stuntman, writer, and director. While doing stunts for big-budget features—like the Matrix trilogy and the Star Wars prequels—he made a number of music videos, including three for Bob Dylan. His original work is darkly comic, violent, and expertly executed. And Bear is no exception.

There are many reasons Bear is so effective: good actors, realistic characters, beautiful cinematography, and a smart script. However, what really takes it over the top is Nash’s closely controlled reveals in story and character that string the audience along so we’re just as stunned as Emelie is when Jack makes his big “transformation.”

—Jeffrey Bowers