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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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
The misspelling of Fiona's name by Fiona herself is a typical and revealing error made by Alzheimer's patients. Coming as it does just after Grant has tried to use the episode of her remembering the recent walk in the park and finding the skunk lilies as a means of continuing his denial, the misspelling brings home to him the futility of his resistance to the truth about her condition. See more »
If you stopped thinking about things the moment you write them down, maybe that's the end of your need to recall.
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Performed by Neil Young
Written by Neil Young
Silver Fiddle Music (ASCAP)
Licensed courtesy of Warner Music Canada
Used by permission
All rights reserved See more »
Not a better dramatic introduction to the challenges of Alzheimer's
Forget 66year old Julie Christie's Breck Hair and young woman figure; ignore her still luminous blue eyes and creamy, so-what creased face. The real star here is Alzheimer's Disease, the thief slowly stealing the heart from a 44 year marriage. Christie's Fiona must go to a nursing home before her disease "progresses." Gordon Pinsent's former college professor Grant reluctantly lets her go.
It's not exactly One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in there, but romance does evolve, such as Fiona's with Michael Murphy's Aubrey (art nouveau's Beardsley I'd guess as the artistic allusion). What's a husband to do? In the best Bergman tradition, young director/actress Sarah Polley moves the plot and camera slowly, peppering it with nuanced twists that satisfy our dramatic interests but leave plenty of room for the meaning-oflife philosophies.
Polley and her source, Alice Munro, succeeds with the thesis that adults need to be given freedom to be who they are at the place they are in their lives. Life for Fiona begins again with tending to Aubrey while Grant stews thinking she may be paying him back for his affairs with students. Maybe so, but Christie's acting is so good (Oscar worthy) that she clearly seems to be in the thrall of Alzheimer's yet lucid enough to remember those indiscretions. Such is the mercurial nature of the disease that long-term memory may linger while-short term is a victim.
K. D. Lang singing Neil Young's Helpless is an inspired touch for the denouement of this beautiful romance. I don't think there could be a better dramatic introduction to the challenges of Alzheimer's than Away From Her.
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