TIFF 2014: Infinitely Polar Bear – Capsule Review

Director: Maya Forbes
Actors: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide
Writer: Maya Forbes
Country: USA
Rating: N/A
Runtime: 88 min

In her debut feature film based on her childhood experiences, Infinitely Polar Bear (2014), Maya Forbes tackles manic depression, creating a family drama that will appeal to many. Cameron (Mark Ruffalo) is a father whose love for his daughters cannot be doubted, and who would be an ideal guardian if not for his manic-depressive episodes. When his family finds themselves struggling to get by, Cameron’s wife Maggie (Zoe Saldana) decides to move to attend business school, leaving the girls in Cameron’s dubious care. As he struggles with the challenges of fatherhood, Cameron also faces the daily difficulties presented by his illness. Ruffalo paints a sympathetic and heartbreaking portrait of a father whose mental difficulties sometimes get in the way of his ability to care for his daughters. To best relay her protagonist’s unstable mindset, Forbes mimics it with her filming style, so when Cameron becomes nervous or anxious, the filming becomes unsteady. This strategy helps to imitate the emotions of one with an illness for those who may not fully understand it. This film shows the highs and lows of a struggle to deal with manic depression, and should be commended for revealing both sides of this illness. However, by placing so much emphasis on the loving family dynamic, the film remains rather light, and I would have liked to see it dig just a little deeper. Nevertheless, this film contains moments of poignancy and emotion, resulting in an entertaining film with a strong lead performance.

Review Score: 7.4 / 10