Infinitely Polar Bear (2015): What It Takes to Keep a Family Together

Posted: June 4, 2016 in Comedy, Drama, Romance
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After suffering a manic-depressive breakdown, Cam Stuart tries to reconnect with his family. Worried about their financial status, Maggie decides that she needs to go get her MBA and find a job to help support them. With no other solution in sight, she convinces Cam to find structure for himself by taking care of their girls. At times, everything seems to be smooth and loving. When everything is not calm, Cam feels at war with his girls, himself, and the world around him. Although she fears for their future, Maggie continues to press through her career and hopes for the best for her daughters.

Honesty & Mental Health: One of the truly amazing pieces of this film was the acting of Mark Ruffalo. Always diving full-on into his roles, he portrayed the variety and the intensity of someone struggling with their manic and depressive swings. At its greatest, he lost control in front of and at his own daughters, often failing to recognize how abusive his behavior appeared. Ruffalo appeared out of control in those most providing the realism this film truly needed.

Reversing Gender Roles: While it is still looked upon as abnormal for women to serve as the breadwinners in a heterosexual marriage while the men serve as stay-at-home parents, there were several moments where the film took a chance to point out the stigma associated with this different family structure. David was challenged by receiving a compliment for doing something that most men would never consider doing (staying at home with the kids). He also felt like an outcast from the other stay-at-home parents, as the only man doing this in his building. For Maggie, she was immediately discriminated against for having children while pursuing a career, even after expressing the independence of her girls and her won ability to work long hours.

Based on True Events: Director Maya Forbes was not just familiar with the story but rather she lived it. Having experienced the manic episodes of her father, she had a unique perspective to express what it was like growing up in an unstable environment. She even cast her own daughter to play her younger self as a child trying to live with and understand the challenges her father presented.

Final Verdict: While imbalanced like Cam Stuart, the film portrays so much heart and growth to maintain intrigue from start to finish. It also helps to have such a phenomenal actor like Mark Ruffalo and a supporting cast including Zoe Saldana’s more tempered performance and the young actresses (Imogene Wolodarsky and Ashley Aufderheide) big personalities.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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