Away From Her

"Good"

Away From Her Review


The act of being forgotten becomes pop-Bergman fair in Sarah Polley's Away from Her. If Polley's name rings a few bells, its because she was a rather prominent ingénue of independent cinema in the early '00s, her range swinging from Doug Liman's rollicking Go to Atom Egoyan's solemn, sublime The Sweet Hereafter. Here, director Egoyan serves as executive producer and gives the floor to Polley as she translates Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" to the screen.

Fiona (Julie Christie) has begun to lose her memory as an effect of Alzheimer's. Grant (Gordon Pinsent), her husband, can only sigh heavily as he watches her slip away; at one point, she puts a frying pan in the freezer. Begrudgingly, Grant signs Fiona into a home for people with Alzheimer's and other diseases incurred through aging. There's a catch: He can't see her for a month, allowing her to settle in without any debilitations. He returns to find Fiona's memory thickly veiled, only remembering him as a figure without nuance. It also happens that Fiona has become cozy with a catatonic, wheelchair-bound man named Aubrey (Michael Murphy). While attempting to get his wife to remember him, Grant makes time to visit with Aubrey's wife Marian (a fantastic Olympia Dukakis) to see what her side is like.

Visually, Polley has a perceptive, if mundane, eye for composition and fluidity. The house, the rest home, and even the frozen-over tundra that Fiona skis on have the wrapped feeling of a cocoon, giving an insular tone to the piece. In narrative terms, however, the erstwhile actress doesn't take any chances and sticks directly to Grant's state of mind. This decision leaves the film in borderline Hallmark territory, but the lack of total catharsis gives the film a more resonant feeling that keeps the film rooted. The restrained mood causes muted emotions, allowing for all the characters to be explored with subtlety and grace.

Like any rabid fan, Polley loves her source material and it comes out as a healthy boost to the film's veneer but a large detriment to thematic content. Munro's language, sometimes copied verbatim, works very well in fiction but becomes awkward in the film's realistic syntax. But the poetic duck-and-weave keeps the story from veering off into sentimentality. Unfortunately, the director's obvious connection to the story and its flow hurts the script ultimately because there's a strong want to keep the story's vernacular onscreen when a script of this sort calls for more barren language.

However, you've got to hand it to Polley in the end. Her work with actors is assured and her love for her source, though wounding here, shows an allegiance to mood and atmosphere. All the actors, Pinsent especially, give stark, aware performances that actually curve out the rougher angles in the script. In its wobbly whole, Away from Her lingers as a hazy, blurry account of fading moments.

Take off the coat. It's May.



Away From Her

Facts and Figures

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th April 2007

Box Office USA: $15.8M

Distributed by: Lionsgate

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 135 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Jennifer Weiss, Simone Urdl

Starring: as Fiona, as Aubrey, as Grant, as Marian, Kristen Thomson as Kristy, as Madeleine, as Dr. Fischer, Thomas Hauff as William Hart, Deanna Dezmari as Veronica, as Monica, Grace Lynn Kung as Betty, Melanie Merkosky as Singing Nurse

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.