If Panahi makes us understand Jafar, he also recognizes the rippling effect of his choices. Such is the dense and intricate layering of this deceptively simple film, which has a no-budget aesthetic and a novelistic sprawl.
Stream No Bears
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Panahi’s stoical presence at the center of all this is rattled, forcing him to contemplate the repercussions of his work both to himself and to even his most guileless collaborators. The sobering final image resonates with the unspoken cry of an artist exiled in his own homeland, saying, “Enough.”
If Panahi’s dissident films have to date been journeys of discovery about the subversively liberating, life-affirming power of cinema, No Bears is where he slams on the brakes.
A complex work of novelistic density, this is among the boldest and most accomplished statements from one of the world’s exemplary filmmakers.
No Bears generally spends less time finding aesthetic articulations of its themes than it does building out an increasingly convoluted plot to support them.
Panahi is a director who has always mingled fact and fiction, and here the distinction is more addled than ever, so that by the time the final credits roll it’s not exactly clear what was staged and what was real.