Bears Love Me! (2019)
Directed by: Eva MC Zanen | 90 minutes | family | Actors: Layla Zara Seme, Serena Bank, Kiki Wartena, Ken Appledorn, Poal Cairo, Michael Diederich, Stephanie Figueira, Marjorie E. Glantz, Gürkan Küçüksentürk, Karien Noordhoff, Hanneke Scholten, Bob Stoop, Rick Zingale
Eight-year-old Jip (Layla Zara Seme) is a big bear lover. Not only does she have dozens of cuddly bears in her bedroom, she also knows everything about the large brown animals. In fact, she knows so much that she sees certain bear characteristics in her relatives. Because the family wants to do something special for Father (Gürkan Kücüksentürk)’s 50th birthday, and Jip insists that she wants to go on a bear expedition, they have booked a road trip through the western United States. Relax with a camper through the extensive, beautiful nature; who wouldn’t dream of that you would say. But the journey does not turn out as relaxed as previously thought and hoped. The camper turns out to be a huge battleship and mother (Hanneke Scholten) says in advance that she never dares to drive around in it. The transport must therefore come from father, but he is suddenly seized by a panic attack and also no longer dares to go on the road without breaking out in a sweat. The nearest, sweltering campsite is searched and a dull and depressing vacation threatens to disrupt Jip’s dreams. Her two older sisters (Kiki Wartena and Serena Bank), just like their parents, are so preoccupied with themselves that no one notices that Jip is drawing her own plan. Because bears will see them!
The Telefilm ‘Bears Love Me’ (2019) was directed by Eva MC Zanen (‘How it happened that the window cleaner was afraid of heights’, 2016), based on a screenplay by Janneke van der Pal (known from the youth series ‘Sien van Sellingen’). and the 2013 Frans Weisz-directed family drama ‘Finn’). They let the viewer experience the story from the point of view of little Jip, a dreamy girl with only one goal in mind: to meet a bear in real life. The story doesn’t dig too deep, but it does touch on some interesting points. That we are too busy with our own troubles, for example, and therefore do not see well what is happening before our eyes. Not only Jip’s father and mother, but also her sisters live in their own world in such a way that they do not realize that Jip is escaping their attention. Until it’s too late. In terms of theme and approach, ‘Bears Love Me’ is strongly reminiscent of another Dutch Telefilm, ‘Taiki’ (2019). In that film, too, the family members are so busy with themselves that they lose sight of their child abroad. And just like in that film, children also discover in ‘Bears Love Me’ that adults sometimes make mistakes and that their good intentions can sometimes go completely wrong.
The acting is decent, with the positive highlight being the young Layla Zara Seme, who steals the show with her disarming appearance and natural charisma. Director Eva Zanen uses a smooth style, with playful visual jokes and angles that give the film that little bit extra. The voice-over in which Jip attributes different characteristics of bears to the people around her, for example, is quite funny, but can also quickly become boring. That is why it is nice that Zanen and Van der Pal realized this themselves and that they stop this trick in time. And so they have a perfect sense of what works (and for how long) and what doesn’t on more fronts. It makes ‘Bears Love Me’ a nice, cheerful and adventurous film for the whole family, which may not go very deep, but it does manage to strike the right chord.