Dane Dehaan Talks to a Bear

by Ruth Coolidge

on the 2016 film, Two Lovers and a Bear


What’s funny is the mouth on this bear. Dane nearly drops a double-barrel shotgun too big for his boy-body and says
      What the fuck are you doing here
and the bear peels his black lips back and says something like
      You can’t keep this up forever

What is it in the weighty dinner-plate feet and loose skin of a bear that begs a prophetic voice?
More importantly: will Dane give him the whiskey?

That question answered (he won’t), the focus shifts from hallucination to flight. The girl can see the bear too now, moaning
      I’m hungry
Dane has shrugged off suicide in favor of a heavier coat, says
      This is all you’ll get
to which the bear replies
      You’re on the right track

The only thing is the running joke: two lovers and a bear walk into a bar.
Why does a bear only follow two lovers?

The crunch of the bear’s face breaking ice is the final shock. Dane’s drowsy eyes meet the bear who begins to say
      Two lovers and a bear walk into a bar
but Dane tucks his head back into the snow and says
      I’ve already heard that one
and the bear withdraws his white snout.
      Be seeing you real soon.

If death is a white ice bear, why does he ask for whiskey? Or why does he need to eat?
And if two lovers walk into a bar, why does it end with the bear?
Is it a story of overcoming or succumbing—or could it be both?

back to University & College Poetry Prizes