Thursday, July 30, 2015

Infinitely Polar Bear

We as a society are fascinated with how the human mind works. Primarily how a damaged mind works. We revel in watching and reading fictitious sociopaths (but at the same time fear encountering one in our daily lives). But we also like seeing how a mind ravaged by mental illness functions.

Frequently said mental illness depicted is either depression or schizophrenia because they're "easy" to depict. (Well, four percent of the world's population suffer from the former, so there's that.) Other disorders that frequently get depicted (wrongly most of the time) are obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and ADHD. More often than not the bad moments are the only ones that get highlighted. But amid the bad moments, there are good ones as well.

Maya Forbes' Infinitely Polar Bear focuses on living with bipolar disorder. With this being based on Forbes' experiences of her father fighting the disease, the film has decidedly a more candid depiction of bipolar disorder than in other fiction.

With bipolar disorder being an illness of many complications, being depicted requires the right actors for the job. And Forbes did just that by hiring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana in two of the main roles. Along with Imogene Wolodarsky (Forbes' own daughter) and Ashley Aufderheide, they show that although life with bipolar disorder can be frustrating, there are some bright spots from its recovery.

Infinitely Polar Bear is a humanizing portrait of a dehumanizing illness. It's a film about family, something not frequently seen in films released during the summer. So if you like the actors or know someone living with this illness, be sure to see this.

My Rating: ****

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