Monday, May 19, 2008

The Ultimate Love Story

Away From Her is an English-Canadian film which debuted at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival and also played in the Premier category at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The feature-length directorial debut of English-Canadian actress Sarah Polley, the film is based on Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain."

It was executive produced by Atom Egoyan and distributed by Lionsgate Films.The cast also includes Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Wendy Crewson, Alberta Watson, and Kristen Thomson.

The film stars Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie as a couple whose marriage is tested when Christie's character begins to suffer from Alzheimer's and moves into a nursing home, where she transfers her affections,after loosing all memory or her husband, to another man,Aubrey, a wheel chair-bound mute who also is a patient at the nursing home.

This film starts out as we are observing Fiona [Julie Christie] and her retired husband Grant [Gorden Pinsent] have just returned home from a cross country skiing vacation andthey are doing one of the many necessary everyday tasks of washing dishes. Grant hands hiswife a frying pan and Fiona puts it away, right into the freezer. She is slowly slipping away into the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease.After she gets lost near her own home she makes the decision that she will check herself into an institution.

To Grant's dismay Fiona is not allowed any visitors for the first 30 days. Unbearable as it is, Grant drops her off at the institution and then he returns 30 days later. At first everything seems to be okay with her until he discovers that his wife actually doesn't recognizes him.

This film is a generous and a deceptively simple portrait brought to life. During thefirst few months of her confinement she keeps on slipping further and further away, andyou can see that distant look in her eyes. Then one day when Grant is visiting her henotices that she is wearing a garish sweater, something that he knew she would neverwear. At that point, Grant knows that his wife is gone forever. Not physically but still gone.

This was Sarah Polley first directorial debut and she did a amazing job with sucha delicate subject matter. And I say Bravo to the cast and crew for turning in sucha superb performance. This film was a true ode to the realities of true love.

The film received vastly favorable reviews from critics and earned Julie Christie the 2007 Critics Choice Award as well and a best actress nomination for the 65th Golden Globe awards. This was in so many ways a true love story.