Female Filmmaker Friday: Infinitely Polar Bear, 2015 (dir. Maya Forbes)
When I first heard about this film I was a bit hesitant to watch it, but it was released during A Year With Women and I felt it would be wrong to skip it. The reason for my hesitation was that it is a story about a man with bipolar disorder, and although it is based on the real-life childhood of writer/director Maya Forbes, I was afraid of how the character would be depicted. The last major film to feature a character with bipolar disorder was David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, and while I thought that Bradley Cooper did an excellent job portraying the disorder I felt like the tone of the film betrayed him. The worst theatrical experience I have ever had was watching that movie and seeing him do such a great job and being surrounded by people laughing at him. I didn’t feel like they were laughing with him. They were laughing at him. Which made me feel as if they were laughing at me as well. Seeing what Cooper did in that film was like watching myself. I have had bipolar disorder half of my life. I felt that Russell’s direction of the film betrayed the great work Cooper did and I was afraid that it would happen again. Thankfully, this was not the case. Not only did Mark Ruffalo do a great job in his portrayal of the disorder, but I felt like Forbes brought much more empathy to the character and in the tone of her film, while imbuing it with equal amounts of humor and pathos.