Given the high-profile and incredibly complex nature of the opioid crisis in America today, it takes a bold and assured voice to explore the theme in a directorial debut. But in the hands of writer-director Annabelle Attanasio and her feature debut Mickey and the Bear, the topic is addressed with incredible nuance and sincerity.
Starring Camila Morrone as the titular Mickey, Mickey and the Bear is not your typical coming-of-age story. Central to the film’s story is Mickey’s relationship with her father, an Iraq War veteran who battles with opioid addiction.
“I started researching veteran culture when I began working on the script five years ago,” Attanasio notes, “and it’s a subject that isn’t really discussed in a nuanced and multi-dimensional way in film today. And you can’t really have that conversation without touching upon the opioid crisis because they are so interlinked.”
Working to financially support both herself and her father, Mickey is forced to address the volatility of her father’s addiction, while also grieving the death of her mother—not to mention deal with all the angst that is a rite of passage for any teen yearning to leave home.
For Attanasio, Mickey and the Bear is an exploration of the father-daughter relationship told, importantly, from the perspective of the daughter. “I noticed there was a lack of films like this when I was growing up,” she notes, “and I was interested in telling the story of the father-daughter dynamic from the perspective of a girl.” Indeed, as she notes, “it’s very rare that we shift the gaze from the perspective of a spiraling male figure to that of a strong young woman.” That alone is reason enough to hold our attention.