Third film of Feminist February with the somewhat misleadingly titled Vic + Flo Saw a Bear. I don’t know where to begin with this one. Really I don’t.
I am positive Christa has much to say about this week’s pick.
Vic + Flo Saw a Bear
Lesbian ex-cons move to small-town Canada, which is quite beautiful and has fewer bears than anticipated. Except in the metaphorical sense.
The Uncondensed Version:
The titular Vic arrives in a small town in Quebec, already ruffling feathers as she insults a trumpet-playing child. I really connected with her at that moment.
As it turns out, Vic has recently been released from prison. She plans to live with her uncle, who is now paralyzed and cannot speak. Fortunately, Uncle Emile has a caretaker in the form of this teen boy who likes to fly a remote control helicopter and avoid wearing a shirt. (Does it really get that hot in Quebec?!)
This is part of a plan to fool her parole officer, Guillaume, into thinking she lives with her brother. Guillaume is pretty much not fooled, but he lets Vic get away with a lot of shit.
Vic spends quite a bit of time cruising around with that teen boy in a golf cart, saying grumpy things to the PO, and inexplicably crying.
It’s not too long before Flo arrives and completes the duo. Vic and Flo are quite sweet initially, but their differences are heading towards irreconcilable. Flo is a younger, free-spirited city dweller who longs for excitement, while Vic would be perfectly content to stay holed up in the woods and never see another living human being.
Sadly, this is not to be, as a woman working for the city shows up and seems to be flirting with Vic. She helps Vic tend to her garden and, in exchange, asks to use the property as a shortcut occasionally. Vic agrees because, hey, what could possibly go wrong?
Meanwhile, Flo, whose sexuality is a bit more fluid, goes to the only bar in town to pick up guys. Also to drink, but probably like 60-75% to pick up guys.
So not the healthiest relationship ever. Things go from bad to worse when Guillaume tells Vic that her uncle Emile really needs better care. She manages to hang on to some of his money that she found hidden in the house, which Flo interprets as a way to keep and control her. Vic, on the other hand, sees it as a romantic gesture even though she follows it with the line “I’ll kill myself if you leave.” Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, ease up a bit on the emotional manipulation, please.
Everything spirals out of control when the lady who has been helping Vic with the garden turns out to be Jackie, a woman with a vendetta against Flo. After she ties Flo to a tree and breaks her leg, Flo insists Jackie has gotten her revenge and will absolutely, definitively NOT return.
I would just like to point out that this is (obviously) horribly, horribly wrong and the kind of person who ties you to a tree and breaks your leg will ALWAYS be back. Lest I completely ruin this one, let’s leave it there and say this film takes a very dark turn.
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
Personally, it drives me nuts that many questions are left unanswered at the end of this film. Unless I missed all of the answers while typing my notes.
First, any sort of explanation for Jackie’s behavior. Presumably Flo owes her money or betrayed her in some way? Jackie’s motives are deliberately ambiguous as she is the force of nature, the “bear” in this film, and it’s not important why she behaves the way she does. It seems to be inherent in her nature.
On a related note, the reason for Vic’s incarceration and Flo hiding for 10 years. Money? Idk, you guys—the only institution who I’ve borrowed large sums of money from is the government. And I don’t think the US federal government has reached the stage of tying people to trees and breaking their knees. YET. My point is that Jackie’s motives seemed more personal, but it remains unclear what she wanted…except to hurt Flo.
The last half of this movie was much stronger than the first…and it would have been stronger if there had been, I don’t know, SOME FUCKING ANSWERS.
I found Vic and Flo compelling but not particularly sympathetic. I completely loved the parole officer, while Vic was scary controlling at times, and Flo incredibly self-destructive.
Worth a watch, but be prepared for the lack of literal/non-metaphorical bears.