Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Away From Her
"It's never too late to become what you might have been."
Written & Directed by:
My rating: 7/10
Away From Her tells the story of an elderly couple torn apart when the wife Fiona(Julie Christie) develops Alzheimer's Disease. After struggling to deal with it together, they decide she would be better off in a home. Her husband Grant reluctantly agrees to repect the policy of the home and stays away for 30 days to allow her a settling in period. However, during this time, Fiona has forgotten her husband and fallen in love with another man.
There are many things about this film that are remarkable. The most remarkable thing is the beauty of the story. Plain and simple, this is a beautiful story and nothing could possibly effect that. The second remarkable thing is the perfectly written screenplay. Sparse as the dialogue is, the screenplay does a lot with very little and portrays these characters in all their glory. The performances from everyone involved were wonderful and although Julie Christie is winning the awards, each performance is as beautifully tender as hers and make this film a pleasure to watch.
A very admirable thing about this film is how it steers away from trying to be a weepie. It is tragic, it is sad but it sticks to themes of what love and companionship really mean and celebrates Grant's realisation of what she means to him. It is indeed painful to watch him see his wife with another man every day while she ignores him but Grant is a hard man and never crumbles. This is why Gordon Pinsent's performance is so wonderful. He's not getting dramatic scenes and there is no shouting and breaking down. There is regret, sadness and love in his eyes at all times but again, never played for weepiness.
The problem with the film was that first-time director Sarah Polley just didn't have the skill to bring such a delicate screenplay to the screen. To her merit, she made a very good film and I would be delighted to see more from her. However, I couldn't help but feel that, in the hands of someone with more experience, the film could really have touched me profoundly. At times, the film sank into TV-movieland and just needed to be handled a little more deftly. That being said, Polley's screenplay is so beautiful that I feel guilty from detracting from someone so clearly gifted.
I would definitely recommend "Away From Her" to anyone. It is sad, frightening and uplifting, all at the same time and, despite a slight case of "what could have been" I thoroughly enjoyed this film.
- Charlene Lydon 5/2/2008