Mickey and the Bear
by Christie Robb
In a nuanced coming-of-age story, writer/director Annabelle Attanasio delicately maps the rocky emotional landscape of high-school student Mickey Peck (Camila Morrone).
Mickey balances school and work, and endures the clumsy advances of a needy boyfriend, all while running the household and performing the emotional labor for her widowed, oxy-addicted, veteran dad (James Badge Dale).
It’s mostly a thankless job. For every tender moment Mikey and her dad Hank share, there’s a real fear that any moment he’ll lob a bowl of beef-a-roni at her head (or worse). And there’s no hope of it ever getting better.
As her high school graduation approaches, Mikey grapples with which path to take toward her future. Continue to parent her dad? Get pregnant and engaged like her friend Beth? Strike out for California and college with the cute British new kid?
Morrone and Dale are excellent in their roles as daughter and dad. The actors are able to keep up with each other as they shift from emotional vulnerability to volatility and back again. The pair could have easily wandered into stereotype or melodrama, but between the actors’ subtle skill and Attanasio’s writing, the characters present a multifaceted realism that is riveting.
There’s no unnecessary exposition and little dialogue that could be paired away. The final act has all the more impact for the understated matter-of-fact way that it is treated.
An impressive film, I anticipate great things to come from Attanasio, Morrone and Dale.