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Away from Her (2006)

Julie Christie , Gordon Pinsent , Sarah Polley  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Wendy Crewson
  • Directors: Sarah Polley
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: September 11, 2007
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000T5O48A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,868 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Away from Her" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Short film by Sarah Polley, "I Shout Love" with commentary
  • Deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage

Editorial Reviews

Married for almost 50 years, Grant's (Gordon Pinsent) and Fiona's (Julie Christie) commitment to each other appears unwavering. Their daily life is filled with tenderness and humor; yet this serenity is broken by Fiona's increasingly evident memory loss - and her restrained references to a past betrayal. For a while, the couple is able to casually dismiss these unwelcome changes. But when neither Fiona nor her husband can deny any longer that she is being consumed by Alzheimer's disease, the couple is forced to wrenchingly redefine the limits of their love and loyalty - and face the complex, inevitable transition from lovers to strangers.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
137 of 145 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Winged Cognition July 15, 2007
Format:DVD
27 year old Sarah Polley made her directorial debut for a feature film with this movie. She had previously directed four short films, and a TV episode. Most of her past notoriety was for being a fine actress, having already appeared in more than 50 films since 1985. She was 9 years old when she did Terry Gilliam's ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (1988). She spent several years as a child star on the television series ROAD TO AVONLEA. She appeared in THE SWEET HEREAFTER, GUINEVERE, and in THE CLAIM (2000). Recently I enjoyed her work with Sam Shepard in Wim Wender's DON'T COME KNOCKING (2005).

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".
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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dance while you can July 26, 2007
Format:DVD
AWAY FROM HER is a film about an elderly couple that copes with Alzheimer's disease. Director Sarah Polley take's Alice Munro's short story, "The Bear Came Over the Mountain," and shows viewers the relationship between Fiona (Julie Christie) and Grant (Gordon Pinsent). Although the film is based on Munro's story, Polley adds more to the film's storyline, such as her focus on Grant's denial and slow acceptance of Fiona's deteriorating condition, and the long drawn out scenes at Meadowlake, the facility where Fiona decides to spend the rest of her life, which adds another dimension to story and the film.

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).
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Many of Us Would Settle for What We Eventually Get? September 11, 2007
By Birdman
Format:DVD
There is a line from YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU in which Grandpa asks:
"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.
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