A man coping with the institutionalization of his wife because of Alzheimer's disease faces an epiphany when she transfers her affections to another man, Aubrey, a wheelchair-bound mute who also is a patient at the nursing home.
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Ian Iqbal Rashid
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Grant and Fiona Anderson have been married for forty-four years. Their marriage has been a generally happy and loving one although not perfect due to some indiscretions when Grant was working as a college professor. Fiona has just been admitted to Meadowlake, a long term care facility near their country home in southwestern Ontario, because her recent lapses of memory have been diagnosed as a probable case of Alzheimer's disease. She and Grant made this decision together, although a still lucid Fiona seems to have made peace with the decision and her diagnosis more so than Grant. With respect to the facility, what Grant has the most difficulty with are what he sees as the sadness associated with the facility's second floor - where the more advanced cases are housed - but most specifically the facility's policy of no visitors within the first thirty days of admission to allow the patient to adjust more easily to their new life there. Based on what he sees when he is finally able to ... Written by
Give me a break -- this is one of the most unrealistic films I have ever seen!
Because the reviews of this film have been so overwhelmingly positive, I was reluctant to post a comment, but after reading others' raves I can only conclude that none of these people has had any serious, first-hand experience with Alzheimer's Disease.
My mother has suffered from Alzheimer's for 14 horrible years, and my mother-in-law had it for about that long before passing away. In both cases, I watched as the disease progressed from early warning signs to the near-total dementia that necessitated admission to a facility; I admitted my mom just a few months ago. To say that I have a lot of first-hand knowledge and experience as a caregiver and as a witness to the ravages of Alzheimer's is an understatement. Therefore, I have to say that I found this film so unrealistic that my husband and I were shaking our heads through much of the poorly written dialogue and actually LAUGHING out loud many times at things that definitely were not intended to be funny.
Everyone is heaping kudos on 27-year-old writer/director Polley, but I found her inexperience and naivete regarding the subject matter glaringly obvious. Julie Christie's character was WAY too self-aware -- nobody with Alzheimer's would say many of the things she did, nor would they willingly be skipping off to an Assisted Living facility/nursing home when there is no apparent need for her to go there for some time, perhaps years.
And speaking of the facility, I have toured a lot of them, and I can promise you the scenes depicted in this film are not the norm. Never is the always-at-the-ready Executive Director there at the door to greet you and take you to your loved one. You're lucky if you get a "hello" grumbled in your general direction -- that is, if they have any idea who you are or who your loved one is. And the head nurse/caregiver who seems to have all the time in the world to sit and chat -- and most unbelievably, to pass judgment on the husband for past indiscretions that she's somehow gleaned from his cryptic comments -- is completely absurd. It's unusual to find a caregiver who speaks English, much less one who could be a psychologist/marriage counselor in her nonexistent spare time.
I really, honestly wanted to like this film and I absolutely love Julie Christie and Olympia Dukakis, but I was so very disappointed. And while I can't imagine Julie Christie winning an Oscar for a role that is so poorly conceived and written, I would give one to the makeup/hair stylist. I have never seen anyone with Alzheimer's look one-millionth as good as she did, and that flight of fancy alone is worthy of some serious Academy love.
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