Sunday 18 June 2023

Movie Review: Infinitely Polar Bear (2014)

Genre: Dramedy
Director: Maya Forbes
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana
Running Time: 90 minutes

Synopsis: Boston, the late 1970s. Cam Stuart (Mark Ruffalo) and his wife Maggie (Zoe Saldana) are living near the poverty line with their two young daughters Amelia and Faith. Cam is also suffering from bi-polar disorder and is briefly institutionalized after a breakdown. Upon release he is stable enough to look after the girls while Maggie completes an MBA in New York. Learning to be a responsible father will not be easy for Cam, while his daughters have to deal with their dad's erratic behaviour.

What Works Well: Inspired by her personal childhood experiences, writer and director Maya Forbes gently reflects on growing up in a less than ideal household. Absurdities are underpinned by tender love between parents and children, and lingering affection between Cam and Maggie despite their strained marriage. Most of the experiences are seen through the eyes of Amelia (played by Forbes' daughter Imogene Wolodarsky), filtering serious adult issues through a forgiving lens. Mark Ruffalo brings childish angularity to the portrayal of a rapidly oscillating mind.

What Does Not Work Well: Bi-polar disorder is simplified to socially awkward and marginally eccentric behaviour, and the narrative is content with performing languid episodic circles around static character traits.

Conclusion: Mental health and poverty struggles receive worthwhile if undemanding treatment.

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