'Infinitely Polar' about director's troubled youth
In this Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 photo, from left, actress Ashley Aufderheide, director Maya Forbes, actor Mark Ruffalo and actress Imogene Wolodarsky of the film, "Infinitely Polar Bear," pose for a portrait at The Collective and Gibson Lounge Powered by CEG, during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — At the beginning of Maya Forbes' directorial debut, "Infinitely Polar Bear," we meet two young sisters who are locked inside a car with their mother as protection from their father during one of his manic episodes.
Based on Forbes' own childhood, the film, which she also wrote, follows the struggles of a family coping with the bipolar disorder of the husband and father, Cameron, played with sensitivity by Mark Ruffalo.
It's a tricky role, because despite his condition and occasional flare-ups, Cameron is not painted as a monster. While he's on the brink of unraveling much of the time, Cameron can be civil, even tender, and only wants the best for his family.
In this Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 photo, actor Mark Ruffalo of the film, "Infinitely Polar Bear" poses for a portrait at The Collective and Gibson Lounge Powered by CEG, during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah. The film starring Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, and Keir Dullea, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)
Zoe Saldana portrays his wife, Maggie, and newcomers Ashley Aufderheide and Imogene Wolodarsky, Forbes' own daughter, play the sisters, Faith and Amelia.
Based in Massachusetts in the 1970s, both Cameron and Maggie are determined to give their girls a private school education. But they can't afford it since Cameron is unable to hold a job. So Maggie decides to leave the girls with their father and go to school in New York to earn her MBA in order to provide a better life for their family. Though Cameron is mentally unstable, Maggie believes he can care for the children while she's away.
Of course, there are the inevitable mishaps: Cameron goes out late and gets drunk, leaving the girls home alone, and he only cleans the apartment on occasion. Still, his love for his daughters remains undeniable.