movie: BEAR IT

As the title suggests, BEAR IT has something to do with teddy bears, but in a childlike, innocent way unlike the raunchy TED.

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The film is about Peter, a tour guide for bears, and the characters that he meets. And in case you’re wondering if there is ever a teddy bear tour out there, in fact there are lots. Here’s a Teddy Bear Lapland Tour and UK Tour, among many others.

The story begins when Peter meets a car accident and loses three bears. He cannot compensate the owners of the lost bears because he himself is broke and has no one to turn to, so he substitutes the bears with “miniature” ones that he passes on as the “shrunk” versions of the original due to the accident.

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Peter meets Grandpa and Grandma Zhu whose bear, York, is actually a miniature representation of their estranged son. Then there is the young girl Xiao May who has a disease and whose mother sends Yang Yang the bear to tours that her daughter could not otherwise go to.

“I have long wanted to ask you this. Why did you name a bear [Yang Yang] after another animal?” – Peter

And finally, there is the depressed nurse Selina who has a house full of teddy bears, each representing a phase or moment in her life.

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Each of course do not buy Peter’s story of a shrunken bear due to the accident, but in different ways. Grandpa and Grandma Zhu continue with the “pretend play” and worries on whether York can have an X-ray so they will know what exactly is his injury. It’s this childlike innocence and hope that plays throughout the film and becomes its central theme.

By strange circumstances, Peter, Selina, Xiao May, and Grandpa and Grandma Zhu get entangled and proceed on a road trip in search for the girl’s father. Along the way, they get to know each other more. Peter switched to being a tour guide for teddy bears because they are not as demanding as humans and don’t speak. Grandpa and Grandma Zhu, who named Peter as the guardian of York (who turns out to be the real person and not the bear), turned their attention to the bear because their son has abandoned them after being refused help on a business. Selina was kicked out as a nurse because of her depression.

“My doctor wants me to choose between an anti-depressant pill that will make me fat or one that will make me lose sexual desire. Fatty or frigid? I’m already depressed, do I have to deal with this question too?” – Selina

Xiao May’s father left the family when the girl was small and started to get sick.

“He treated her like a teddy bear. Play with her when she was cute and small and abandoned her when she was broken.” – Xiao May’s mother

The father left a letter for Xiao May together with NT$1,000 to use when she wants to look for him in the future. So the strange gang embarks on this adventure in Selina’s car. Xiao May’s mother and York the human chase after them with the lawyer who is being harassed by the son to change the will.

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These five strangers, with emotional issues to deal with on their own and who had long found comfort in their teddy bears, find comfort in human warmth and company. But humans, unlike bears, have differences and they can speak those differences out so there are conflicts. There is also a painful discovery that awaits Xiao May that maybe, not even the hug of Yang Yang, can help. But hope and love prevails.

“My wish is as many as the stars in the sky.” – Selina

“That many?” – Peter

Cheng Fen Fen (HEAR ME) directed this film. She has become an expert in exploring the human emotions that lay underneath. Dylan Kuo as Peter comes up with a character that reminds me of a grizzly bear, which bodes well for the texture of the film. Alice Ke as the depressed Selina shows her versatility once more by playing an offbeat character. And despite the lack of chemistry between the two leads, the story is solid and the film works.

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PERSONAL: BEAR IT will resonate with teddy bear lovers, including myself. I also have a rather large collection of teddy bears (and not miniature but mid-sized, 17 teddy bears, three pandas and a sheep), a bulk of which I had to lug along during the moves in my life from Manila to Oxford to Manila to Bangkok, each time the number increasing. They all have names and represent a moment or a person. My friends all know them. @IamYammybear travels with me everywhere. I have stopped collecting for now because there is simply no space in the flat. Why did I start collecting? Perhaps it has something to do with the memory of my late dad and the blue bear family that he gave me for my fifth birthday. Teddy bears are not human but they do offer comfort even to adults and they don’t complain or talk back when you’re being a difficult person. They just “bear it” all. And yes, I watched BEAR IT with them.

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But it’s not just teddy bear lovers who may identify with the film. It’s for everyone who struggles with something, and we all do at certain times, and turns to inanimate objects to cope. BEAR IT tells us that in the end, we don’t have to bear things alone.

“Time will not let you forget your pain. You just get used to it.” Selina

Buy BEAR IT from YesAsia.

Copyright © theasianpopculturist. Blogging since 2001. All rights reserved.

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