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, 2006
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AWAY FROM HER MOVIE POSTER
AWAY FROM HER, 2006
Movie Reviews

Directed by Sarah Polley
Starring: Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Kristen Thomson
Review by Nina Katungi



SYNOPSIS:

After forty-years together a husband must come to terms with his wife’s Alzheimer’s. She needs to be placed in a Home and cared for. Even though he couldn’t stand the thought of separating from her he must do what’s right.

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REVIEW:

Sarah Polley adapted the short story “A Bear Came Over The Mountain” into this amazing screenplay. From a very young age, Polley has been a huge fan of writer Alice Munro and was delighted to be given the opportunity to take on this task. She wanted to keep the script as close to the story as she could, she found the short-story dynamic and literally wanted to transfer that energy onto the screen. Alice Munro has read the script but has not yet watched the film. Although she has it at home she has yet to take that step and watch her world translated on to the big screen.

I think Sarah Polley’s amazing. She knows how to capture emotion on the screen, and as an actress too she knows how to portray it. I was really looking forward to this movie, as this was her feature debut. “Away From Her” is film about love, loss, and sacrifice. This film captures moments through its tone, its atmosphere, and through each characters state of being. The characters ooze emotion by exuding such a presence with body gesture’s and expression. I felt this movie and I was touched.

Fiona (Christie) and Grant (Pinsent) have been together for over four decades. Fiona’s Alzheimer’s is spiralling out of control and she knows it’s time for her to be taken care of. It’s clear that both of them love each very much but Fiona’s disappearing, she’s becoming a stranger herself and a stranger to Grant too. The story takes place in a non-linear timeline. Their lives are told through past and present, which overlap each other throughout the film. The events that occur are real and expressed in a raw and uninhibited form. We simply observe this couple as they deal with the inevitable.

Grant takes Fiona to her new Home. It’s extremely hard for both of them to say good-bye - they haven’t been apart in over forty years. The first rules at the Home, is that Fiona is not allowed to have any visitors for the first thirty days. This is especially hard on Grant who must spend his days alone, at their house. When the month finally comes to an end, Grant is back at the Home in no time. Things have however changed and Fiona has found a new companion, Aubrey (Murphy). Grant is heartbroken but must come to terms with Fiona’s change. He continues to show up everyday with the hope that Fiona will spend time with him once again. Fiona is now fallen in love with a completely different man and there is nothing Grant can do about. He finds comfort and advice from one of the nurses, Kristy (Thompson), who tries to keep his spirits up. The hardest thing is to watch someone you love just slip away and become a different person right in front of your eyes. This is what its like for Grant but still he endures this change and visits everyday.

Fiona has adapted into her new life rather nicely but soon something happens, which ends up drawing her deeper into the ground. Aubry is discharged from the home by his wife Marian (Dukakis). Grant tries to support Fiona but there doesn’t seem to be any hope. Grant will do anything for Fiona and to keep her from progressing into her own little world, he must get Aubrey back. Grant goes to visit Marian and find they have a lot in common. They are two lonely souls that love their spouses dearly but will never feel that love back from them ever again. Marian takes some convincing before she agrees to bring Aubrey back. What they both do is hard but this is a sacrifice they’re willing to make.

This film is an observation piece where the audience observe the process of a couple dealing with the physical and mental affects of Alzheimer’s. The film does feel quite slow at times but I believe that it’s supposed to be that way. The film takes control and you merely just have to follow. We are taken through that unexplainable process where in some situations, in this case Alzheimer’s, things are completely out of our control. The visuals are beautiful and the sounds are extremely crisp. Polley has created an atmosphere so descriptive that it brings the screen to life. She overlaps dialogue with different images, which I really like because this storytelling is a tool that somehow manages to keep our senses active. This is heartfelt film brought to life by amazing actors and a highly talented filmmaker. “Away From Her” is a film for people who see movies as a piece of art. The pace, the shots, everything seems placed precisely for a specific reason.

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