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SFF’14 Movie Review: “Infinitely Polar Bear”

January 29, 2014

Screen shot 2014-01-29 at 5.35.15 PM

It looks like we’ve already found the next (light-hearted) “Silver Linings Playbook” (with a dash of “Mr. Mom”); it’s in the form of writer/directors personal story “Infinitely Polar Bear”. Based on the times of Maya’s own childhood with her bi-polar father raising her in Boston, Forbes assembles a terrific cast and presents a heart-warming, compelling, story about the rough patches of parenthood and the trials of childhood with the speed bumps that follow.

Set in the late 1970s, a manic-depressive mess of a father, Cam (Mark Ruffalo) tries to win back his wife, Maggie (Zoe Saldana), by attempting to take full responsibility of their two young, precocious daughters (Imogene Wolodarsky & Ashley Aufderheide). Maggie decides that the time has come for a change, as she decides to return to college, earn her masters, and find a job that will support her daughters. Cam, living in and out of hospitals, is finally granted his own apartment, under a watchful eye. Given the opportunity to see his daughters again has become one of the most grateful rewards of his new found life, however playing Mr. Mom for them may not.

I can honestly say that without any hesitation, Mark Ruffalo will garner his fist Best Actor Academy Award Nomination come next year. To say he’s good in this role doesn’t do the compliment justice; he defines the role of Cam as being a half crazed, semi-inspirational figure, which still manages to find a common ground of the realities of people living with bi-polar disorders. The relationship with the daughters is child-like at best, essentially Cameron is a big kid at heart, so for the daughters to counterbalance the mayhem by having to play parent is entertaining at the up most.

During the Q/A, Maya Forbes discussed the inspiration of her actual father, and the fact of being half-black was an important element to the story, since she herself is half-black. Forbes lightly shadows the film with the focus racial stigmas, and the role reversals of gender placement between home and work. It does tread to hard on itself to become self-indulgent, but manages to find that fine line of empathy in the characters, and the harsh realities they must face.

But, in the end, this is a light hearted family film, sure there may be some sensitive rough patches in-between Acts 2 & 3, but this is something I think the entire family can sit down, laugh, and appreciate the message “Infinitely Polar Bear” conveys; family is a crazy thing, and I don’t mean that in the mental state of the term crazy.

GRADE: A

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