Sarah Polley is only 27 years old, the child star of Terry Gilliam’s Adventures of Baron Munchausen
, now director who has made her first feature film Away From Her
, starring the wonderful Julie Christie. as Fiona and Gordon Pinsent as Grant Based on a short story by Alice Munro. The story is set in Canada. A couple in their 60’s live comfortably in their winter years after 50 years of marriage, sharing meals, reading good books. Living in their country home. Fiona starts to experience memory loss and Grant notes erratic behavior such as putting the frying pan away in the freezer. Much to his dismay Fiona checks into living in a facility that treats Alzheimer’s. Grant doesn’t want to believe what is happening but reluctantly agrees to respect Fiona’s wishes. Paradoxically as Fiona begins to experience short-term memory loss, her grasp of events from the past such as Grants numerous affairs surface. Polley portrays the paradoxes of memory skillfully in her film and it is amazing to experience her grasp of this sensitive material. There are a few younger characters at the rest home such as a young girl who admires Grant for his devotion to Fiona even though she eventually forgets who he is and strikes up a friendship with one of the patients Aubrey played by Michael Murphy. This is the second time Murphy and Christie are paired up in a film; the first time was McCabe and Mrs. Miller. As Grant releases he is losing Fiona life is kind to him. The wife of Fiona’s new love interest played by Olympia Dukakis takes a liking to Grant. Yet the film does not rest on simple solutions and easy answers. The strength of Away from her rests on the laurels of an excellent director and Julie Christie whose demanding role is interpreted with subtlety humor and wisdom. Polley said she only had Christie in mind when the film was to be cast. Though Away from her may seem to have a sad the, the care with which the director addresses Alzheimer’s is absolutely brilliant. I was left with a feeling of understands and empathy thanks to a remarkable cast that brings one of modern medicines most painful afflictions to light. Away from her was the closing film of the recent Creteil Films de Femmes International Women’s Film Festival
that ran March 23 April 2.
© 2007 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 5/2007
Away From Her
Canada - 2006