The new movie Mickey and the Bear is probably not the coming-of-age story you’re used to. Even though Mickey Peck (played by Camila Morrone) is almost 18, she doesn’t lead a life that most teenagers do. Like any teen, Mickey dreams of bigger things for her future: She wants to escape the small Montana town in which she lives, and go to college on the West Coast. But she can’t leave her dad, Hank (James Badge Dale) behind, since she’s the only one who takes care of him (her mother died from cancer). Hank is an opioid-addicted war veteran with PTSD, and he relies on his daughter to keep him alive. And that’s a lot to ask of a high-schooler.
Mickey financially supports both of them with her part-time job at a taxidermy studio; she gets the groceries, cleans the house, and makes sure Hank is taking his medication. While Mickey feels the tug-of-war between the freedom she craves and the love she has for her father, it’s understood that the relationship between her and her dad is complicated and, at times, toxic. Throughout the movie, the roles of parent and child become blurred, as Hank’s codependency takes a tragically emotional toll on Mickey.
Mickey and The Bear Is Sort Of A True Story
While Mickey’s story isn’t necessarily autobiographical, writer and director Annabelle Attanasio told SXSW that she did take bits and pieces of her own experiences as a teenager to write the film.
“My teenage years were consumed by this sense of obligation I had towards my parents. I felt my family’s problems were my sole responsibility to fix, and spent a great deal of adolescence mediating between my parents and attempting to take on their emotional dysfunction." she said. "The movie feels like a culmination of those chaotic years of my childhood.”
Mickey & The Bear Is Realistic
Although Hank’s character is fictional, he represents an estimated 10.3 million people in the U.S. who have abused opioids in 2018, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. While the opioid crisis is happening all over the States and affecting people of all backgrounds, a recent study shows that there’s an alarming increase of opioid deaths among war veterans. Attanasio wanted to address the treatment of military veterans in Mickey and the Bear. “It’s utterly wrong and capitalism at its finest and preying upon people who are really in need,” she said in an interview with Uinterview, additionally claiming that the government response to the needs of vets is simply giving them drugs.
Attanasio wanted to present opioid abuse in a nuanced, careful way, so a lot of research went into Mickey and the Bear.
The tender way in which Mickey and the Bear approaches addiction, growing up, and a complex father-daughter relationship sets it up for some late in the year buzz in 2019. Mickey and the Bear hit New York theaters November 13, and will be coming to Los Angeles November 22, and nationwide November 29.