By Noel T. Manning II
“We were happy, I know there’s more to life than that … there always is.”
That quote sets the tone for the chaotic tale of a man’s search for self in the midst of his own turbulent mind in the film “Infinitely Polar Bear”. The exceptional Mark Ruffalo stars as Cam Stewart, a binge-drinking and chain-smoking father diagnosed with a mental disorder.
Stewart is tasked with being the primary caretaker for his two daughters while their mother (Zoe Saldana) attempts to find a better life for the family by earning her MBA degree in another town. Unhinged by routine, responsibility, and pressure, the child-like Stewart faces the challenge of his life. At times he is aware of his limitations, and yet in others, his emotions completely control his actions. What follows is a roller coaster journey of love, disappointment, despair, and hope.
Although the father is the one diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, all around him are caught up in the emotional vortex including the audience. The unpredictable lifestyle choices, outlandish situations, violent outbursts, and anxiety-ridden panic attacks are mirrored by the soundtrack, visual hues, camera angles, and editing choices. These all play in concert with the organized chaos on screen.
This film is ultimately about the love of family, and the extent to which that love will go.
“Infinitely Polar Bear” is rated R for language.
This film earns a grade of “B” on the Cinemascene report card.