And here is the second film for the challenge: Infinitely Polar Bear!
The reason I chose to watch this film was because it stars Mark Ruffalo, and he usually takes on movies with unique, intriguing storylines that I like (Begin Again and Spotlight are two films from him that I absolutely love and recommend). Also, this was the film that snagged him a Golden Globe nomination this year for best actor in a comedy or musical, so all the more reason to watch!
Based on Director Maya Forbes’ own experiences with her father, Infinitely Polar Bear follows the story of Cameron Stuart (Mark Ruffalo), a father whose bipolar disorder spins out of control and forces him to move into a halfway house. Separated from his wife and two young daughters, Cameron longs to return to his family and rebuild his relationship with them. His chance comes when his wife leaves for New York to pursue an MBA and asks him to care for the kids while she’s gone.
Although the film deals with a heavy subject matter, there are moments of humor and compassion that relieve the audience. The film also portrays bipolar disorder in an honest manner, for it doesn’t over-dramatize or sugarcoat this delicate subject. Having known people who suffer from this disease, I was initially concerned about how offensive, or not offensive, this movie could be, but ultimately, the film gave a very frank and real account of someone who struggles with the illness and how the disease affects those around him. Mark Ruffalo also delivers a phenomenal performance that truly conveys the complexity of his character. (Definitely can see why he was nominated for a Golden Globe.)
While I enjoyed watching Infinitely Polar Bear, I do recognize this may not be a movie for everyone because it isn’t like most other films with a clear beginning and end. It is more a “day in the life” movie where we see a slice of Cameron’s life, and we’re not sure what happens before or after that moment in time. So for some people, the lack of clear beginnings or solutions to the problems presented in the film may leave them unsatisfied. But this style of film only lends to the movie’s authenticity because mental illness isn’t something one can capture neatly in a box with the top and bottom clearly marked. It is way more complex, and only looking for the top and bottom causes one to miss out on all the significant layers in between.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Title: Infinitely Polar Bear
Director: Maya Forbes
Writer: Maya Forbes
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide
Run time: 1 hr 30 min