Infinitely Polar Bear
Directed by Maya Forbes
A manic-depressive mess of a father tries to win back his wife by attempting to take full responsibility of their two young, spirited daughters, who don't make the overwhelming task any easier.
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★★★★ review by kyle97 on Letterboxd
Infinitely Polar Bear gave me a nice change of pace after spending most of my free time in the past week watching horror/thriller movies. This is one of those flawed, but feel-good movies that I absolutely adore, owed largely to its irresistible charm and delightful story. Maya Forbes did a fine job in her first directorial effort.
Infinitely Polar Bear follows Mark Ruffalo's Cam, a man diagnosed with polar disorder/manic depression and how he must take care of the two daughters, after Zoe Saldana's Maggie decides to pursue a Master's in business in the hope of later finding a decent job so she can support the family. Basically Ruffalo's character finds himself assuming the role of caregiver, while his wife becomes the family's breadwinner.
The movie is autobiographical since it's based on Maya Forbes's experiences in her formative childhood years when she lived with her father who had bipolar disorder. In many ways, the movie is a love letter to her dad. There are justifications in Forbes' light, comedic touch to the heavy subject matter. Giving the film soft, upbeat edge, Forbes untangles all the underlying complexities in the theme without oversimplifying them by telling the story through the older daughter's narration. The film is less about going deep into the psyche of one man than about exploring the daughters' relationship with their father and their increasing frustrations with his mental instability. While Forbes also provides a sketchy social, political landscape to the movie, she's more interested in crafting an intimate comedy-drama.
The movie is anchored by Mark Ruffalo's soulful, lively performance. I liked him a lot in The Kids Are All Right and Foxcatcher, but this is far and away my favorite performance from him. Ruffalo's so goddamn likeable here it's so easy to embrace all of his flaws. It's a tough role to play for sure, going from one emotional spectrum to the other, but Ruffalo nailed it with flying colors and never crossed over into caricature. Zoe Saldana and the girls who play the daughter also gave lovely performances.
★★★½ review by Robby Warren on Letterboxd
Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana give two of their best, if not best, performances in "Infinitely Polar Bear", a solid and effective drama that impresses despite some pacing issues and daft dialogue.
★★★½ review by Connor Carey on Letterboxd
"Infinitely Polar Bear" is pretty repetitive, starts off a little rocky, and probably could have been 10-15 minutes longer, but it's still a really funny, very heartfelt, and at times heartbreaking portrayal of a dad with Bi-Polar disorder. I can't forget to mention how good Mark Ruffalo was here, he seriously was phenomenal and easily gave the best performance of his career. It would be awesome to see him get some sort of recognition come award season.
★★★½ review by Vincent Lao on Letterboxd
On paper Maya Forbes’ Infinitely Polar Bear might look like a problematic family drama, but the consistent, heartfelt performances from Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana make it all worth it. The film centers on a mentally unstable father who takes over responsibility for his two daughters while his wife attends a graduate school. Mark Ruffalo is outstanding here, balancing the tough act of playing an unhinged individual with nuance and complexity. Ruffalo’s likeable everyman charm suits well together with Saldana’s radiant presence. The daughters are great in supporting turns as well. The upbeat energy, and unabashed sincerity of Infinitely Polar Bear makes it worthwhile to spend some time with this family.
★★★★ review by Dawson Joyce on Letterboxd
Charming, funny, and touching, Infinitely Polar Bear makes for a strong directorial debut from comedy writer Maya Forbes thanks to engaging characters and soulful performances from all involved.
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