Infinitely Polar Bear

I’m calling foul. Y’know, if you want to dedicate a fond remembrance to your bipolar afflicted father…wonderful. I sincerely hope that it was therapeutic for you, and that you look back on your filmic accomplishment with great satisfaction and pride. Here’s the problem though. But finding a distributor, introducing your work on the festival circuit, and obtaining a North American release date, now I am expected to experience it too. And I have a heart, plus I understand. My own father was afflicted with a mental disability, brought on by severe substance abuse. He lived for 24 years in that state, before passing at the age of 70. And it wasn’t easy, it was often difficult, and it was never fun. Maya Forbes’ “Infinitely Polar Bear” is written and directed in a way that tries to make it desirable to have a mentally unstable parent of your very own. Bullshit. This is a damn fairy tale. And we have more than enough of those.

Cameron Stuart (Mark Ruffalo–preening, prancing, and platitudinous, in an over-the-top role) suffers from bipolar disorder and has had a psychotic break. He’s an educated, Bostonian, bohemian…who can cook. Cam (as he’s called) is married to an intelligent, beautiful woman named Maggie (Zoe Saldana…almost perfect, but she deserves so much more), and raising two young daughters (Imogene Wolodarsky–the director’s own daughter, and Ashley Aufderheide). But he loses his job and home after his breakdown, and is hospitalized and given intense therapy. Maggie is then forced to relocate with the girls to a small apartment, and struggle to acquire lucrative employment. When Cameron is somewhat rehabilitated, he is able to move to a halfway house. So, stretching credibility to the nth degree, Maggie decides to move to New York City and continue her education. This decision leaves the children with the erratic Cam, who runs off to bars in the middle of the night when stressed (leaving his grade school kids alone), and hordes enough junk in their apartment to make it borderline unlivable. But, you know…he’s fun.

If Maya Forbes can acquire a decent enough budget to get this sappy story made, maybe they should have handed out insulin shots at the door. I guess it’s possible that that would’ve bolstered its tepid box office. Ms. Forbes has done a lot of television writing…and it shows. This is her feature debut as a writer/director. Mark Ruffalo is one of our finest film actors, but his character isn’t directed to be discernibly human here. Not his fault. Zoe Saldana brings a magical amount of poise and gravitas to her role, but her motivations are poorly constructed. But Ms. Zaldana didn’t write it. Where does the fault lie? Oh-the kids are fine. “Infinitely Polar Bear” is too cutesy and syrupy to offer any real rewards. I’m glad Ms. Forbes got this off of her chest, now I wonder if she can make something good. Her movie stinks, but the lead actors are already forgiven.

Grade:  C-


4 comments on “Infinitely Polar Bear

  1. I have bipolar, my Dad had it too (we both were hospitalized many times) and I thought this movie was SO BAD I couldn’t stand watching more than 15 or 20 minutes of it. It’s not even that it was too triggering – I just thought it was boring and not well-done.

    I thought, “Is there something wrong with me?” due to all the accolades.
    Thanks for writing an honest review!!!!

    • Hi dyane,

      So pleased to receive your comment…thank you for taking the time! I’ve often taken films to task for making mental or medical issues “cutesy”. People afflicted with these things have an EXTREMELY different existence, then the way it is portrayed by motion pictures. Not that they can’t excel or have fruitful lives. But I find them usually portrayed in a very condescending manner. Seems you agree!


      • Thanks, Mark, for your kind reply! I wonder if you’ve seen “Touched with Fire”. I refuse to see “Touched With Fire” for many reasons. I hope you don’t mind my sharing a few here…For one thing, the director/writer sold out. He originally called his film “Mania Days”, and then I guess producers etc. wanted something more marketable & superficial, so they wooed Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, paid her to use her book title “Touched with Fire” (which to me, as much as I admire Dr. KRJ, sounds like a porno film title), and then they gave her a cameo in the film! Plus, casting the vanilla Katie Holmes was the final straw although I’d bet you $20 that Tom Cruise has bipolar, so Holmes observed his bipolar disorder during their marriage. Anyway, if you saw the film and liked it, *please* forgive me…..we can agree to disagree because I think you’re very cool! 🙂

  2. I have not seen “Touched with Fire”, so I can’t offer an opinion. Thanks so much for your support, though…and thanks for reading!


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