Infinitely Polar Bear explores mental illness and family relationships [Review]

Infinitely Polar Bear explores mental illness and family relationships [Review]


Photo: Golden Scene

It's amazing how Maya Forbes's autobiographical film about her manic-depressive father manages to stay heartening rather than sad.

Written by Forbes and featuring her daughter Imogene Wolodarsky as a fictionalised version of herself, Infinitely Polar Bear has an authenticity that keeps it clear of  melodrama. Rather, it is a simple depiction of how a family struggles with the challenges of mental disorder and financial instability in the 1970s.

Mark Ruffalo nails his performance as Cam Stuart, the father whose manic breakdown landed him in mental hospital. When his wife Maggie (Zoe Saldana) gets accepted onto an MBA programme in New York, Cam moves back home to take care of their young daughters. 

Character development is subtle and natural. Frustrated at first, they all gradually learn how to get what they want from one another, and somehow, the family becomes stronger than ever. 

But like Cam's disorder, one second the family is enjoying a day out, and the next they're in floods of tears. It reminds us life's a tough ride, so you may as well enjoy it.

Contains strong language

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This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Father doesn't know best


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