"An Experience Learned"
What You Need To Know:
AWAY FROM HER could have become a maudlin, 'disease of the week' TV movie, but the director, Sarah Polley, films a touching story of an elderly, but active man forced to watch his wife of 44 years disappear. AWAY FROM HER is beautifully filmed and the actors are superb. Of special note is Kristen Thomas as the nursing head who gains Grant's confidence and becomes his advisor. By helping him, she helps us see the painful stages of Alzheimer's and the disease’s maddening unpredictability.
(Ro, Pa, B, L, S, A, D, M) Mixed Romantic and slightly pagan worldview with no intention of asking for God's help in dealing with Alzheimer's, but some moral elements; six profanities and obscenities; implied married sex and implied extra-marital sex; alcohol use; smoking; and some miscellaneous immorality.
The first scene in AWAY FROM HER is a tender foreboding. Julie Christie, achingly brilliant as Fiona, can’t remember where the frying pan goes, so she puts it where she thinks it goes…in the refrigerator. Gordon Pinsent plays Grant, her husband of 44 years who watches her every move. When their eyes meet, the recognition, denial and fear of what is to come is established.
Fiona is much quicker to accept Alzheimer’s Disease than Grant. After getting lost skiing in the snowy woods outside Ontario where they live, she begs him to take her to Meadowlake, a center for Alzheimer’s patients. She convinces him it will be for temporary rest and treatment, but she never leaves.
This could become a maudlin, ‘disease of the week’ TV movie, but the director, Sarah Polley, creates a touching story of an elderly, but active man forced to watch his wife of 44 years disappear.
AWAY FROM HER is beautifully filmed and the actors are superb. Of special note is the Head of Nursing, played by Kristen Thomas, who gains Grant’s confidence and becomes his advisor. By helping him, she helped us see the painful stages of Alzheimer’s unveiled and the maddening unpredictability of the disease.
The movie shines because of its authentic depiction of Alzheimer’s and the stages of grief that loved ones are forced to endure. The movie fails in the dialogue. The adaptation of Alice Munro’s short story, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” produces chunks of dialogue that sounds scripted at times. The movie moved glacially at times because of this artificial quality and it seemed unnecessarily long.
The real absence, however is the love of God in the lives of Fiona and Grant. The comfort and confidence of knowing that a place for us to meet those we love again is being prepared now, is where our hope lies. Without that hope, the miserable daily losses of mind and body are meaningless and cruel.