Tuesday, July 7, 2015
INFINITELY POLAR BEAR
As you may have heard or read he plays a husband and father suffering from bipolar disorder, or as he says in the film "whatever they're calling it these days" as the movie is set in the late 1970s and early '80s when it was still being called "manic-depressive disease."
A lot of good film actors, and actors in general, love playing roles like this one because they get to create physical ticks and mannerisms unavailable to more "normal" characters. But my experience is that it's easier to play extremes than not. I always used to point out that Robert Redford was underrated as an actor because he played "normal" so well (people who worked for him called him "Ordinary Bob"), which I believe is the most difficult thing to make work on screen.
But Ruffalo manages to not only play the ticks and mannerisms and make them seem integral and necessary for the character, he convinces you, or at least he did me, that they are "normal" for the character. (And brought up my own experiences fighting my own demons while raising two kids on my own during the period the movie is set in and several years before then.)
We saw the film in a theater that has a bulletin board in the lobby and encourages folks to write short reviews on index cards. Rachel's short review was better than this, and I can't remember it to reproduce it here, but do remember that the final word in it was "triumph." And it's true, this small film is a triumph in more ways than just humanizing and personalizing mental illness or showing, as Rachel pointed out later in our conversation about the movie, how it isn't just about mental illness but about all the other kinds of challenges life throws at us that someone with mental illness has to deal with too.
They're touting Ruffalo already for awards calling this his greatest performance yet, though it's so early in the year and this is such a small independent film with limited distribution that it might not get the attention it would need for that, but hopefully he will and so will Zoe Saldana who gives perhaps the best performance of her career too (and the two child actors are standouts as well).
Definitely worth seeing.