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Away from Her
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Polley's mother died when she was 11 years old. She considers actress Julie Christie to be her "surrogate mother". She worked with her twice before in NO SUCH THING (2000), and LIFE OF WORDS (2005). Originally Polley wanted to do a feature film about a 12 year old girl who finds herself being the star of a TV series, something she knows a little about -but there was no financial interest. Then she went with adapting a short story she liked by Alice Munro, THE BEAR CAME OVER THE MOUNTAIN. She wrote the screenplay with Julie Christie specifically in mind to play Fiona.
The film's plot revolves around a retired 60ish professor who lives a comfortable lifestyle with his gorgeous wife in a cabin his mother used to own. They are forced to face the harsh reality of the wife's impending cognitive decline secondary to Alzheimer's disease. While still coherent, Fiona (Julie Christie) convinces her husband, Grant (Gordon Pinsent) that it would be prudent to allow her to check herself into a special retirement home that specializes in Alzheimer's patients. Reluctantly, the husband agreed. The institution had a 30-day waiting period before the first family visit to allow new residents to "settle in".Read more ›
Polley does a fine job in showing the intricacies that may occur in a marriage. The film takes place in Ontario, Canada, where a somewhat remote and snow-covered landscape captures the cold and emotionless feelings between Grant and Fiona. With the use of subtle home movie-like snapshots that capture the couple's past, the images show the irony of their lives; this is yet another film where the dialogue between the characters are short and ambiguous, but their facial expression fill-in the gaps where nothing is said as well as the film's soundtrack which complement the scenes.
The film is purely fiction but interesting. Grant shows his undying love for Fiona by making her as comfortable as possible - he comes to visit her everyday and reads her favorite books about Iceland; she does not remember being from Iceland. And when Grant finds out that Fiona befriends one of the residents at Meadowlake, Aubrey (Michael Murphy), he is somewhat resilient and disconcerted with her behavior, but eventually accepts it in order to make her happy. In turn, Grant has an unusual meeting/affair with Aubrey's wife, Marion (Olympia Dukakis).Read more ›
"How many of us, when we're young, would settle for what we eventually get?"
What is extraordinary about Julie Christie's performance in this film is that Fiona settles for, and builds upon, what life deals her with a level of emotional discipline half inspiring, half maddening to her husband.
As the husband, Gordon Pinsent delivers a performance as racked with confusion, pain and nuance as any I have seen in movies for years. The complexity of his character is as enigmatic as Fiona's. Together, their love story provides hope for anyone who has stopped believing in love.
While this film sheds light on Fiona's descent into Alzheimer's disease, the film is neither about dementia nor is it about the hopelessness that often surrounds it. It is about the unexpected storms that overtake relationships and the ways in which two good people come to grips with disruption. For Alice Munro, whose story provides the basis of the screenplay, love is riddled with extraordinary pain, but it often conquers the odds.
Gorgeous nature cinematography is a character in the film. In the opening scene, as in occasional scenes after, the lovers cross-country ski across frozen landscapes suffused with an Alpine glow. They are at peace, saying few words but sharing what could never be spoken.
The scene in which Fiona, sensing her decline into dementia, becomes momentarily lost -- only to become a snow angel, suggests that even early dementia has its respite.
Thre were a number of minor issues that troubled me. Julie Christie's American/Canadian accent wasn't persuasive at the start.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really love this movie, good acting. Hits home as we had a loved one with dementia. Whole world out there.Published 1 hour ago by easier
I waited too long to watch this one. This was the film with the concept I loved--a couple facing alzheimers in which the mother falls in with another man while her husband... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Brad A.
very emotionally draining but very loving story of a couple when she develops Alzheimer. wonderful movie.Published 3 months ago by carol j hegdahl
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So what's it feel like when you have such a disregard for your indiscretions and then whamo you get them back fourfold while... Read more
The perfect revenge on a cheating husband...to simply forget him...rock on Julie Christie.Published 3 months ago by Kandy Langford
This movie was a tear jerker because my husband has severe early onset dementia, and I completely relate to the spouses of these patients in the movie. Read morePublished 3 months ago by LT