"Infinitely Polar Bear" (2014 release; 90 min.) brings the story of Cam Stewart (played by Mark Ruffalo) and his family. As the movie opens, we get a clever montage of 8 mm. footage from 1967 (how Cam and Maggie met in Boston and eventually married) on to the present (i.e. 1978). Cam is a manic depressive and he just got fired (again) on the first day of his latest job. It leads to an outburst and eventually Cam is put away. We then move to "six weeks later', where Cam is in a halfway house. Maggie is desperate to improve their financial situation and decides to do an MBA on a full scholarship at Columbia, leaving Cam to take care of their 2 daughters Amelia and Faith. At this point we're about 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first, this movie is a labor of love from writer-director Maya Forbes (best known for her work on The Larry Sanders Show). She bases the story on her own upbringing and as such the movie is pretty much autobiographical. To make things even more authentic, she cast her 12 yr. old daughter (Imogene Wolodarsky) as her younger self (Amelia). I noticed in the movie's opening credits that J.J. Abrams is one of the executive producers. Second, I don't know to what extent the portrayal of the Cam character is an accurate reflection of being manic-depressive or bi-polar. Yes, there are the highs and the lows, and yes, there is the habit/need to never throw out anything and instead collect like hamsters do, but is that enough? I do not know. But it all looks quite innocent on the big screen, and no 'bad' things happen to anyone in this. Third, the four leading acting performances (Ruffalo, Wolodarsky, Zoey Baldana as Maggie, and Ashley Aufderheide as Faith) are all enjoyable, and the interaction between them feels authentic. Fourth, the movie, set in the late 70s, contains a treasure trove of period cars from the 60s and 70s. Check out the Peugot station wagon Cam has at some point, but that's just one example. Truly a eye candy for car aficionados. Last but not least, there is a terrific soundtrack, including both the original score (by Theodore Shapiro) and a bunch of songs (best of all, George Harrison's Run of the Mill, which plays at the conclusion of the movie and over the closing credits; and also China Forbes (of Pink Martini, and sister of Maya Forbes) bringing an excellent new tune called "The Northern Line", also playing over the closing credits). The soundtrack is available here on Amazon.
This movie made quite a splash at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. No idea why it took another 18 months for this to get released in theaters. "Infinitely Polar Bear" opened in August at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and appeared to have enjoyed a good run. The early evening screening where I saw this at was attended nicely. If you are in the mood for something that could be quite heavy but in fact is brought with a light touch and a smile never far away, and you want to see something light years away from Hollywood's standard fare of comic book action heroes, I might suggest you give this a try, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
Lovely little gem. Ruff does an amazing job here and the kids are amazing. This film is not well know but everyone would like it. I have nothing more to say that should be needed to convince you.... simply just watch it and enjoy!
As someone with manic depression it is nice to see my life somewhat depicted in a film. They do a great job including the various aspects of having bipolar and it's a phenomenal film. I recommend it to everyone especially those with family or friends that may have manic depression.
This was a sweet movie that chronicled a period of time in a family where they had to choose how to deal with the reality of one member's mental illness, while moving forward with their own lives. The details of the story are already explained in other paid reviews on this site, so I'll just say that I loved the message, and the way the movie doesn't sugarcoat things, but does keep a positive perspective. I loved the way the husband and wife didn't become enemies, but still came from a place of love, while the struggle of the wife (and I'm sure it was very difficult) was still evident. The way that the girls idolized their father (at first, with the buffer of their mother to keep things together) was tempered by the fact that daily life with him (and without her) was very different, but ultimately they still loved him and cared about him. It was just a really touching film, and I enjoyed watching it. Mark Ruffalo's performance was really good, as was Zoe Saldana's, and the two girls. Heartwarming, sweet, but it kept it real. I loved it.
Mark Ruffalo was wonderful. He is one of the great actors of our time. Very serious subject but I found laughter through my tears. I just don't know how realistic it is for the wife and children to stay so grounded amidst the chaos...