‘Inf initely Po­lar Bear,’ other f ilms.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - — Sheri L inden

Re­call­ing her 1970s child­hood, screen­writer Maya Forbes makes her di­rec­to­rial de­but with a work of fond nos­tal­gia about a dif­fi­cult time in “In­fin­itely Po­lar Bear,” which views the fall­out of men­tal ill­ness through the bright prism of fam­ily re­silience and good hu­mor.

Though the film is chop­pily told and its episodic rhythm never gath­ers mo­men­tum, it con­tains well-ob­served mo­ments and as­tute per­for­mances by Mark Ruf­falo and Zoe Sal­dana.

As Cam Stu­art, a bipo­lar man with an un­con­ven­tional ap­proach to par­ent­ing and life in gen­eral, Ruf­falo cre­ates a por­trait that’s alive with fir­ing and mis­fir­ing synapses, at once play­ful, ten­der, abra­sive and mag­netic. Sal­dana’s un­der­stated turn as his wife, Mag­gie, is per­sua­sively vul- ner­a­ble be­neath the takecharge re­solve.

They’re bo­hemian types whose mar­riage is shat­tered, at least tem­po­rar­ily, by his hos­pi­tal­iza­tion for what was then called manic-de­pres­sion. The rum­pled scion of New Eng­land blue bloods who of­fer lit­tle in the way of fi­nan­cial sup­port, the re­ha­bil­i­tated but un­em­ploy­able Cam be­comes chief care­taker for the cou­ple’s two girls when Mag­gie em­barks on an MBA pro­gram to bet­ter the kids’ prospects.

The mem­ory piece is told partly from a child’s per­spec­tive, with an em­pha­sis on youth­ful ex­as­per­a­tion. Though they some­times sound like pre­co­cious mouth­pieces for the au­thor, the sis­ters are played sans cutesi­ness by Imo­gene Wolo­darsky (the di­rec­tor’s daugh­ter) and Ash­ley Aufder­heide.

Forbes pushes the pos­i­tiv­ity a bit in­sis­tently, yet one of the most ap­peal­ing as­pects of her film is its de­pic­tion of kids thriv­ing in an un­ortho­dox house­hold. Con­sider this a trig­ger warn­ing for he­li­copter par­ents. “In­fin­itely Po­lar Bear.” MPAA rat­ing: R for lan­guage. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 28 min­utes. Play­ing: Ar­cLight Holly-

wood; Land­mark, West L.A.

Sony Pic­tures Clas­sics


and Mark Ruf­falo are bo­hemian types in “In­fin­itely Po­lar Bear.”

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