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Wednesday September 19, 2007 11:22 pm

DVD REVIEW:  ‘Away From Her’

Away From Her

As I was putting the DVD of Away from Her back in its case, I noticed this line on the cover:  Sometimes you have to let go of something you can’t live without.  Of all the vague, cheesy and misleading taglines on most movie posters today…I couldn’t have chosen something more apt for this film.  The next best thing would have been:  If you loved that weeper ‘The Notebook’, this movie will rip your heart out.

Away is the feature-length directorial debut from actress Sarah Polley, who’s probably best known by younger audiences as Ronna from Go.  She is also credited with adapting the screenplay from a short story by Alice Munro (‘The Bear Came Over the Mountain’).  Atom Egoyan, Polley’s director in her breakthrough film The Sweet Hereafter, served as the movie’s executive producer.

The film stars the beautiful Julie Christie (Fiona) and Gordon Pinsent (Grant) as a couple still madly in love after 45 years of marriage.  Their peaceful existence in their cozy cabin is eventually interrupted by a series of signs.  Signs they tried to do their best to ignore.  Unfortunately, it comes to a point where Fiona’s memory lapses prove too worrisome to simply brush off.

Not wanting to burden her husband, Fiona insists she be placed in a nursing facility.  Grant knows this is the right decision but grapples with letting go. He also refuses to believe his wife may one day be placed on that floor – the floor where patients go when their conditions become ‘more progressed’.

Grant commits to visiting his wife everyday in hopes of staying connected, but his dogged determination can’t slow her deterioration.  He then fights the realization that he has become a stranger in her life while becoming a witness to her new bond with another patient.

This beautiful, thought-provoking movie will leave you walking away with many questions:  Is it harder to watch your loved one die…or have them slowly drift away?  When is it best to finally let go?  And most importantly—when can you finally decide to happy?  The film also addresses the other victims of Alzheimers—the ones who have to cope with the loss.

Gordon Pinsent does a heartbreaking job playing a man who suffers in silence. The pain etched in his face as he sits patiently watching his wife speaks volumes.  Meanwhile, Julie Christie is remarkable as a woman constantly confused by things, and people, she should remember.

Despite being relatively young, Polley, 28, demonstrates great sensitivity to the subject matter and a maturity beyond her years.  The absolutely touching Away From Her is an outstanding directing achievement for anyone.


SPECIAL FEATURES
  • Opener with several celebrities (David Hyde Pierce, Lea Thompson, Peter Gallagher, Olympia Dukakis) talking about the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Special Film Commentary with star Julie Christie
  • Deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Sarah Polley


Director:  Sarah Polley
Starring:  Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis
Rated:  PG-13 (for some strong language)
Running Time:  110 minutes

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