Infinitely Polar Bear

This indie drama, about an unemployed bipolar man (Mark Ruffalo at his best) raising two young girls on his own, delivers an effectively heart-tugging family story without sentimentalizing mental illness. Maya Forbes, a veteran Hollywood screenwriter making her directorial debut, based this on her own childhood, which might explain why the father is so emotionally specific. You can see traces of his sensitivity and curiosity even as he falls prey to mania or depression, and the instant he starts doing well, you worry that another unpleasant episode is imminent. The film takes place from 1978 to ’79, and the warm, shaggy vibe evokes the movies of Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude, Being There). With Zoe Saldana.