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Away from Her

It's Never Too Late To Become What You Might Have Been. 

Year: 2006 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Away from Her

Director: Sarah Polley

Starring: Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis

Away From Her presents us with the poignant story of trying to deal with someone losing who they are, and the possibility of someone they love losing them altogether as a result. We follow Fiona (Julie Christie) and Grant (Gordon Pinsent), an ageing couple in Ontario, Canada, whose relationship is put under strain with the onset of Fiona’s Alzheimer’s Disease. The couple must face their first real separation since their marriage as sweethearts, as Fiona moves to a nursing home.

Touching from its opening moments, Away From Her deals with the problems of memory loss and identity. Can losing your memories and losing your experiences strip you of your identity? Is it always something entirely unwelcome? Julie Christie gives a touching performance, most certainly one of her best. She is powerfully emotive as Fiona, who at first is pragmatic and in touch with the reality of her condition, but becomes increasingly fragile as her Alzheimer’s progresses. Gordon Pinsent presents her husband Grant as just as fragile as she. He struggles to cope with the separation from her both literally, when he is unable to visit her for a period of thirty days, and emotionally, as his wife becomes increasingly distant from him, and begins to form an attachment to another male resident, Aubrey.

This is writer-director Sarah Polley’s debut film, which she has masterfully adapted from Alice Munro’s short story The Bear Came Over The Mountain. Polley employs the bleak, beautiful Ontarian landscape to great effect, the lasting blankets of snow providing an effective metaphor for Fiona’s condition. An intellectual and emotional journey, Away From Her never stops being engaging. Delving into Grant’s growing alienation and anger, as he feels he may be being punished for his past failings in their marriage. It is a story well told, crisp and quiet in tone but not without impact. Away From Her documents the possibility of a lasting relationship; understated and impressively unsentimental, it is threaded with sad and comic touches - making it a film that manages to leave its mark long after viewing.

Sophie Petrie

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Screenings of this film:

2007/2008 Summer Term (35mm)