Review: Infinitely Polar Bear

Maya Forbes’ feature debut as writer/ director (a Bad Robot production, as JJ Abrams loved the script) is a family affair.

Maya Forbes’ feature debut as writer/ director (a Bad Robot production, as JJ Abrams loved the script) is a family affair: her husband Wallace Wolodarsky helped produce and has a nice cameo; her young daughter Imogene plays Amelia; and it’s all based on her own experience as a child, when she dearly loved (and sometimes deeply feared) her bipolar Dad. Set in a grungy 1978 (which rather hides budgetary limits), we meet Cameron (Mark Ruffalo), who’s in a manic state and taking his daughters Faith (Ashley Aufderheide) and Amelia on a wild day out, when they should be at school. The girls have seen all of this before, but it’s the last straw for his long–suffering wife Maggie (Zoe Saldana). After Cameron is released from a lengthy spell in an institution, Maggie has decided that they should live apart, at least for the moment, much to the kids’ horror. However, when money gets tight, Maggie must commute from Boston to a business college in New York, but this will mean leaving the girls with Cameron for long stretches. He fully believes that he can be relied upon to look after them like a sane adult — but can he? Will he take his lithium? Will he get rid of the rubbish that clutters his magpie–nest of an apartment? And can he really convince Maggie not to leave him? Despite the ill–advised title (which comes from a child’s attempt to describe what ‘bipolar’ means), Forbes’ drama is very moving and has great compassion for Cameron, without turning him into some sort of saint or excusing him for his recklessness.

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