Release Date: May 4th, 2007 (Landmark Sunshine Cinemas and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas) by Lionsgate Films.
The Cast: Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Michael Murphy, Olympia Dukakis, Kristen Thomson, Wendy Crewson.
Directed by Sarah Polley.
BASIC PREMISE: Grant (Pinsent) tries to rekindle his love of his wife, Fiona (Christie), who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease at a nursing home. Based on the short story “The Bear That Came Over the Mountain” by Alice Munro.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Away From Her feels thoroughly absorbing and gripping thanks to terrific performances and an organic script. Grant and Fiona have been married for nearly fifty years, but when Fiona shows signs of memory loss, Grant admits her into a nursing home. When he visits her there after a month, she fails to recognize him as her husband and, instead, shows affections toward Aubrey (Murphy), a married man who also resides in the nursing home. Even though it turns out that he had once cheated on her with college students, Grant’s love of Fiona is palpable through his words and the tenderness and warmth of his voice when he talks to her. Writer/director Sarah Polley, in her directorial debut, does an exceptional job of weaving this drama into a complex story with strong character development and doesn’t cop-out with any flashback scenes. Instead, she includes a lot of dialogue which feels so natural that it grips you from start to finish with all of its gentleness. Fortunately, it never gets too sappy or corny. Sarah Polley also manages to make the most out of the cinematography, the wintry settings and the musical score without any pretentiousness. Most importantly, she allows Julie Christie to shine in a very powerful, memorable and Oscar-worthy performance.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The scenes when Grant tries to remind Fiona that she’s his wife feel just as heartbreaking as similar scenes in The Notebook. Fiona’s condition makes him feel dejected, especially given that she focuses her attention on someone else rather than on the love her life. It’s very moving and somewhat uplifting to watch Grant be persistent and use every bit of hope to rekindle their love. After all, as clichéd as it sounds, true love does last forever.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: Warm, tender and heartbreaking. Julie Christie shines in an Oscar-worthy performance.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater
The "A" Menu