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Away from Her (2006)

PG-13 | | Drama | 25 May 2007 (USA)
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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.

Director:

Sarah Polley

Writers:

Sarah Polley, Alice Munro (short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain")
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 62 wins & 39 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gordon Pinsent ... Grant Anderson
Stacey LaBerge Stacey LaBerge ... Young Fiona
Julie Christie ... Fiona Anderson
Olympia Dukakis ... Marian
Deanna Dezmari Deanna Dezmari ... Veronica
Clare Coulter ... Phoebe Hart
Thomas Hauff ... William Hart
Alberta Watson ... Dr. Fischer
Grace Lynn Kung ... Nurse Betty
Lili Francks Lili Francks ... Theresa
Andrew Moodie Andrew Moodie ... Liam
Wendy Crewson ... Madeleine Montpellier
Judy Sinclair Judy Sinclair ... Mrs. Albright
Tom Harvey Tom Harvey ... Michael
Carolyn Hetherington Carolyn Hetherington ... Eliza
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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's never too late to become what you might have been See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Canada | UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 May 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lejos de ella See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

CAD 4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$53,267, 6 May 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,571,521, 19 July 2007

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,674,385
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Julie Christie turned the script down the first time it was sent to her. She would do this several times over the course of a year until Sarah Polley's determination wore her down. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Fiona: I think I may be beginning to disappear.
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Soundtracks

Missing You
Music & Lyrics by Pam Armstrong
Performed by The Strap-Ons
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User Reviews

 
Will not easily be forgotten
13 May 2007 | by moutonbear25See all my reviews

A couple washes up after dinner. He washes while she dries. They savour the memory of the delicious dinner they just shared. They are smiling and in love after forty-four years together. In a moment of silence, he casually hands her the frying pan he has just cleaned. She dries it with her towel, walks to the freezer and puts it inside. She exits the room as if nothing out of the ordinary has just happened. All he can do is watch, if his intentions are to be sensitive. This is the context in which we are introduced to Grant and Fiona (Gordon Pinsett and Julie Christie) in the first feature film adapted and directed by Canadian actress Sarah Polley, AWAY FROM HER. Polley brings unapologetic honesty and sympathy to the lives of these two characters. After a lifetime together, they will be torn apart by Alzheimer's. Neither can do anything to stop it. He can only watch her mind disappear while she tries to enjoy the undetermined lucid time she has left. It is Polley's delicate and respectful hand that guides the viewer to see past the surface of misplaced kitchen apparel and see the longing for tenderness that is had between as it lingers longer than fading memories.

Memory comes in and out in AWAY FROM HER. With the image often filling with white and veering on blurry like a blinding snowstorm, Polley sets the tone from the start. Memory is a hazy concept. Alzheimer's is a cruel game that has Fiona having difficulty maintaining her short-term memory, like why she left the house or common words, while some of the most painful memories in her life seem like they will never be forgotten. Her story unfolds as she decides to admit herself to a retirement facility so that her husband needn't be responsible for her. This particular "home" enforces a policy where new residents are not allowed to have any contact with the loved ones they left behind for the first thirty days after they are admitted. When Grant is finally able to return to the residence, it isn't clear whether Fiona even recognizes him and worse yet, she has found comfort in the company of another man (Michael Murphy). As painful as this reality is, Polley cuts away to another time and place throughout this build, allowing us a glimpse into where Grant will end up as a result of all this change. As a result, the film feels interrupted. It is one of few mistakes made by this novice filmmaker but fortunately not one that makes the film any less painful.

Polley directs three beautifully nuanced performances from her leads. As Grant, Pinsett is bewildered, stubborn and hopeful depending on the moment. Despite all of his frustration, he is constantly searching for understanding and resolve for the memories even he has difficulty letting go of. Olympia Dukakis joins the cast as Marian, the wife of Aubrey, the man Fiona befriends in the residence. She is a tough woman, brass because she has to be. For Grant, she represents what he could have become had it been decided that he would care for his wife himself. Her life is one that was surrendered to supporting her husband through his illness, forcing personal happiness to be removed as a possibility. Naturally, given the nature of the part, it is Christie that pulls the viewer deep into a mind that is falling away. In one scene, Grant brings her home for a day. She marvels at how it was kept so well after all this time. Though the home she is seeing was her own for over twenty years, she looks on it as if it belonged to someone else. The way her eyes take in the surroundings, an environment that she should know intimately, suggests a sense of attachment intrinsically linked with a saddened detachment. She should know this place, these things, and one some level she does. She does not understand why she should feel a sense of familiarity, just that it is so. It is as though memories flood back to her but they aren't her own.

AWAY FROM HER is a fantastic first film from a talented Canadian actress with great promise as both a perceptive writer and skilled director. It is also a lesson in patience and learning to let go. Not for the viewer but for those on screen. Grant must always exercise restraint while allowing the love of his life to find solace in another man. After all, what matters most is that she be at peace. As big a task as this is, Fiona must do even more. She must accept that the life she knew is behind her and that the one ahead of her is new, necessary and one that might fade away from her as quickly as it happens to her.


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