A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Maya Forbes
Produced By: Wallace Wolodarsky, Benji Kohn, Bingo Gubelmann, Galt Niederhoffer
Written By: Maya Forbes
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana
Running Time: 90 Minutes
A film to slip under many people’s radars in early 2015 was Infinitely Polar Bear, an independent comedic/dramatic release focusing on mental illness. It’s always a challenge undertaking such a topic in film because as soon as the audience suspect an inconsistency or a slight mistake in any capacity, it’s very difficult to remain convincing and thus, respectful.
Mark Ruffalo was a fantastic choice to play the leading role of Cameron as he produces one the best performances of the year as a man struggling with severe bipolar disorder. Along with Zoe Saldana and two impressive child performances (even though you wanted to rip their hair out most of the time), Infinitely Polar Bear is a recommendation for lovers of smart and unique family dramas.
Cameron (Ruffalo) is a manic-depressive who one day has a rather large breakdown. Having a tremendous affect on his wife and kids, Cameron is separated while he recovers.
His wife Maggie (Saldana) faces the difficult dilemma of working away from her family in order to support them financially, whilst entrusting Cameron with full responsibilities during her absence.
Cameron is desperate to win back his wife and children, so undertaking the single parent role is not a hard choice to make; however as soon as he realises how big an undertaking it truly is, his instabilities begin to resurface.
Infinitely Polar Bear is a touching family dramady that is respectful and honest in its approach to mental illness.
Although Ruffalo’s Cameron is unstable and in a constant state of emotional flux, the fickle nature of how the audience reacts to him is exactly what the filmmakers seemingly wanted to achieve.
He is simultaneously loveable and irritating at the majority of points throughout the film, which is something difficult to achieve.
Every character is flawed within the film, even Maggie who is arguably the most important character in the entire picture. Although each character is engaging in their own unique way, whether it’s through charisma, sympathy or even frustration, there are certain flaws within each member of the family that makes them far more interesting.
This is a fantastic quality to emerge from the writing, which quite possibly could stem from the semi-autobiographical foundation of director Maya Forbes’ upbringing.
The film has a vintage style that matches it’s 1970’s setting. Inter-spliced home video footage adds to the development of characters and setting, encompassing a deep connection within a family, which is something that works heavily in the films favour. Costume design also works exceptionally well in taking the audience back into a specific era.
Ruffalo’s outfits alternate throughout the film, each as eccentric as the next, however through his sporting of denim overalls, slightly dorky sweaters and goofy hats, we get a greater sense of him as a person.
The journey of Infinitely Polar Bear is an amusing, infuriating and upsetting ride that tackles the issue of bipolar disorder very well.
Ruffalo is brilliant in the challenging lead role, whilst Saldana and the kids perform excellently as the directly effected family trying to overcome there own personal speed bumps in relation to Cameron’s issues.
A film to emerge early in the year, Infinitely Polar Bear should be sought out before it goes back in to eternal hibernation.
On a side note; although it may not win any awards come OSCAR season, it is a strong contender for the film with the whackiest producer names of 2015 (see above)!