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.
In 1930's Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings moves to Florida's backwaters to write in peace. She feels bothered by affectionate men, editor and confused neighbors, but soon she connects and writes The Yearling, a classic of American literature.
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
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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 »
You never left me; you still made love to me... Despite all those disturbing elements elsewhere. But all those sandals... all those bare female toes, Grant; what could you do?
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I'm not usually one to watch films dealing with diseases of any type believing them to be maudlin, manipulative and even somewhat morbid much less mental illness, but since this is expected to earn Julie Christie another Oscar (which would probably make it the longest gap between the first and second win), I decided to check it out in time for the upcoming awards ceremony.
Christie's character has been struck with the debilitating Alzheimer's Disease but, thankfully, she or, more precisely, writer-director Polley (a likable actress in her own right, though not appearing here herself) doesn't bemoan her fate; rather, she accepts it with grace and even treats the condition with mild humor (which is the way these things should be approached but, I guess, one has to really be going through them himself to really know). Incidentally, I find extremely silly and unwarranted the recent warning by some hysterical group when, in her acceptance speech at the SAG awards, Christie joked that if she forgot the name of anyone it's because she was still in character!
The film is undeniably moving as we see the aging heroine degenerating to the point that she can't even recognize her own devoted husband (Gordon Pinsent) and even attaches herself to a fellow patient (Michael Murphy) at the clinic to which she's eventually admitted. Ironically, considering the accolades showered upon Christie, I feel that it's Pinsent who's the real protagonist here: quietly despairing yet brave in coping with the heartbreaking situation (unsurprisingly, he strikes up a friendship with Murphy's own wife played by Olympia Dukakis). On the other hand, the viewpoint of the younger generation (obligatory in our zealously-PC world) is present here though in a somewhat idealistic manner, if you ask me via a teenager who chats with Pinsent during one of his visits to the clinic (and, in a deleted sequence, is revealed to be a neighbor of Dukakis and occasionally takes care of Murphy for her).
Actually, this isn't the kind of film one would expect an emerging young director to make particularly since it has aspirations of being a Bergman-like chamber drama which, while fairly compelling and austere (aided with respect to the latter by the snowy Canadian setting), clearly lacks the necessary depth which a master craftsman would otherwise bring to such material.
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