Director: Maya Forbes
Run Time: 1h 30m
Mark Ruffalo delivers yet another stellar performance, but not even he can make this film the gem it’s trying so desperately to be.
In Infinitely Polar Bear, Ruffalo plays Cameron. Cam suffers from bipolar disorder and his wife, Maggie (Zoe Saldana), has had enough when Cam has a complete and total breakdown. Sort of. She has him admitted and put on medication. She then takes their two daughters, Amelia and Faith (Imogene Wolodarsky and Ashley Aufderheide) to an apartment in Boston that’s more affordable than their quaint house by the water. After Cam is released, Maggie hatches a plan. She will go to school in New York for 18 months to get her MBA. Then she’ll return home and find a job. While she’s away, Cam will care for their two daughters. Everybody wins, right?
Wrong. So very wrong. First of all, I understand that you can love someone so dearly regardless of their mental stability. But if you just had that person committed, why on earth would you feel comfortable leaving them with your children for an extended period of time? And if said person had a total breakdown in a peaceful home with your help to raise the kids and take care of that home, how is it a good idea to leave them without any help in a tiny apartment in the city? He’s on medication, not magic beans. Oh, and what happens if he decides to stop taking his medication? Do you expect your 11-year-old to step up? Because that’s illegal.
Maggie would occasionally come home to visit and things turned out to be a lot like Cam’s mental state: all over the place. Her first visit was a facade of hope. Everything was in order. Her second visit was the polar opposite (pun intended). There was crap everywhere, dishes piled throughout the space, their world was in complete disarray. That’s in addition to the several times that Cam would leave the girls home alone while he went out drinking in the middle of the night. Yet, Maggie still thought her plan was a good one and should continue…for 18 months! She didn’t even set up a backup plan to check on her family every now and then. Again, I’m not trying to be insensitive to loving someone with a mental disorder, but it couldn’t hurt to be cautious. Especially after having witnessed how the situation had progressed to something less than healthy.
The only thing more annoying than Maggie’s lack of logic: her daughters. They would drive a healthy person mad, let alone poor Cam. They were disrespectful, manipulative, ungrateful, little brats. It didn’t help that the young actresses who played them were obviously trying too hard. Their best scenes were the ones requiring them to sit and stare in disgust. Problems arose when they opened their mouths. I’d apologize for the insensitivity again, but I have a real problem with casting children who aren’t ready for the part. I’m despicable that way.
This film is pretty shallow as far as a plot goes. The gist of it was described above. There are a few additions of the girls’ school, neighborhood kids, and a rich great-aunt (or great-grandmother?? I don’t actually care). Overall it was just a flat film that only succeeded in irritating me. My rating is out of respect for Mark Ruffalo, and the admission that some of the humor wasn’t bad. I guess I just expected something more and was underwhelmed with what I got.
I would say Infinitely Polar Bear is only worth a rental if you’re a Ruffalo fan. Otherwise, this is one you can skip.
Silver Linings Playbook won Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar, and earned several other nominations. Bradley Cooper’s Patrick “Pat” Solitano also suffered from bipolar disorder, and followed him as he tried to reassemble his life after a breakdown.