Away from Her (2006) movie review & summary & introduction

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“Away from Her” is a drama film released in 2006, directed by Sarah Polley. The movie is based on the short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” by Alice Munro. The production of “Away from Her” faced challenges in accurately depicting the complexities of Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on individuals and their relationships. Additionally, the filmmakers had to navigate the sensitive subject matter with care and sensitivity, ensuring that the portrayal of Alzheimer’s was both realistic and respectful. Despite these challenges, the film was well-received and received critical acclaim for its authentic portrayal of the disease.

Director and Actors

Director: Sarah Polley

Actors and Roles:

  1. Julie Christie as Fiona Anderson: A woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease who begins to forget her husband and the life they shared together.
  2. Gordon Pinsent as Grant Anderson: Fiona’s husband, who struggles to cope with her declining health and the changes in their relationship as she slips further into dementia.
  3. Olympia Dukakis as Marian: A friend of Fiona and Grant who offers support and guidance as they navigate the challenges of Alzheimer’s.
  4. Michael Murphy as Aubrey: Another resident of the nursing home where Fiona stays, who forms a close bond with her as they both grapple with the effects of Alzheimer’s.
  5. Kristen Thomson as Kristy: The director of the nursing home where Fiona resides, who provides care and assistance to Fiona and the other residents.
  6. Wendy Crewson as Madeleine: Grant’s friend and confidante, who offers support and advice as he struggles to come to terms with Fiona’s illness.

General Concept

“Away from Her” tells the story of Fiona and Grant Anderson, a married couple whose relationship is tested when Fiona is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As Fiona’s memory begins to deteriorate, she makes the difficult decision to move into a nursing home specializing in dementia care. Despite their love for each other, Fiona’s declining health strains their relationship, leading her to forget Grant and the life they shared together. Grant must come to terms with the heartbreaking reality of losing his wife to Alzheimer’s and grapple with the complexities of love, loss, and the passage of time.

Complete Story

The film opens with Fiona and Grant Anderson, an elderly married couple, enjoying a quiet and idyllic life together in their home in rural Canada. Their happiness is shattered when Fiona begins to exhibit signs of memory loss and confusion, leading to a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Determined to provide the best care for Fiona, Grant agrees to her decision to move into a nursing home specializing in dementia care.

As Fiona settles into her new surroundings, she forms a close bond with Aubrey, another resident of the nursing home, while her memories of Grant and their life together begin to fade. Despite Grant’s efforts to stay connected to Fiona and support her through her illness, he struggles with feelings of guilt, grief, and loneliness as he witnesses the gradual loss of the woman he loves.

Over time, Fiona’s condition worsens, and she becomes increasingly disoriented and detached from her past. She forgets Grant’s name and struggles to recognize him, causing him immense pain and heartache. Despite the challenges they face, Grant remains devoted to Fiona, visiting her regularly at the nursing home and cherishing the moments of clarity and connection they share.

As Fiona’s Alzheimer’s progresses, she makes the difficult decision to stop taking her medication, believing that it will allow her to retain a sense of dignity and autonomy in the face of her declining health. Grant grapples with Fiona’s decision, torn between his desire to respect her wishes and his fear of losing her.

In a heartbreaking twist, Aubrey’s wife, Marian, moves him out of the nursing home, leaving Fiona devastated and alone. Grant is forced to confront the painful reality of Fiona’s illness and the inevitability of her decline. Despite his grief, he finds solace in the knowledge that Fiona’s love for him remains, even as her memories slip away.

In the film’s poignant conclusion, Fiona’s memories of Grant fade completely, leaving her with no recollection of their life together. Grant watches helplessly as Fiona moves on, her mind consumed by the fog of Alzheimer’s. Despite the heartbreaking loss, Grant finds solace in the knowledge that their love transcends the boundaries of memory and time, enduring even in the face of Alzheimer’s cruel grip.

“Away from Her” is a poignant and deeply moving exploration of love, loss, and the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Through its sensitive portrayal of Fiona and Grant’s journey, the film invites viewers to reflect on the complexities of aging, illness, and the enduring power of love.

Adaptation from Book

“Away from Her” is adapted from the short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” by Alice Munro. Originally published in The New Yorker in 1999, the story explores themes of love, memory, and aging through the lens of a married couple grappling with the wife’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Munro, a celebrated Canadian author known for her poignant and insightful storytelling, drew inspiration from her own experiences and observations of aging and memory loss. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” received widespread critical acclaim and was later included in Munro’s collection of short stories titled “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.” The adaptation of Munro’s story into a feature film by director Sarah Polley allowed for a deeper exploration of the themes and characters, bringing the poignant story to life on the big screen.

Best Features of the Movie

“Away from Her” offers several compelling features that make it a must-see film:

  1. Powerful Performances: Julie Christie delivers a mesmerizing performance as Fiona, capturing the complexities of her character with nuance and sensitivity. Christie’s portrayal earned her widespread acclaim and garnered nominations for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actress. Gordon Pinsent’s performance as Grant, Fiona’s husband, is equally compelling, conveying the emotional depth and complexity of his character’s journey.
  2. Authentic Portrayal of Alzheimer’s: The film offers a realistic and sensitive portrayal of Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on both the individual and their loved ones. Through its nuanced storytelling and careful attention to detail, “Away from Her” captures the challenges and complexities of living with Alzheimer’s, highlighting the emotional toll it takes on those affected by the disease.
  3. Emotional Depth: “Away from Her” explores themes of love, loss, and the passage of time with depth and poignancy. The film invites viewers to empathize with Fiona and Grant as they navigate the challenges of Fiona’s diagnosis and struggle to come to terms with the changes it brings to their relationship. The emotional resonance of the story lingers long after the credits roll, leaving a lasting impact on audiences.
  4. Beautiful Cinematography: The film features stunning cinematography that captures the natural beauty of the Canadian landscape and the intimacy of Fiona and Grant’s relationship. From sweeping shots of the countryside to intimate moments between the characters, “Away from Her” offers visual imagery that enhances the emotional impact of the story.
  5. Compelling Narrative: “Away from Her” tells a compelling and deeply moving story of love, loss, and the complexities of marriage. The film explores the intricacies of Fiona and Grant’s relationship as they confront the challenges of Alzheimer’s, offering insight into the power of love to endure in the face of adversity.
  6. Important Social Commentary: The film raises awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on individuals and families, highlighting the need for greater understanding and support for those affected by the disease. Through its sensitive portrayal of Fiona and Grant’s journey, “Away from Her” advocates for compassion, empathy, and dignity in the face of illness and aging.

Critics’ Reviews

“Away from Her” received widespread critical acclaim upon its release:

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars, praising Julie Christie’s performance and the film’s sensitive treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. He wrote, “Julie Christie gives the performance of her life, and a new film by Sarah Polley has quietly grown up, as observant as Jane Campion’s ‘Away from Her.'”

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on reviews from critics, with the consensus stating, “A tender, heartbreaking drama, Away from Her boasts powerful performances from Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent.”

Critics praised the film for its powerful performances, authentic portrayal of Alzheimer’s, and emotional depth. Julie Christie’s portrayal of Fiona earned her widespread acclaim and garnered nominations for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Reasons to Watch the Movie

There are several compelling reasons to watch “Away from Her”:

  1. Emotional Resonance: “Away from Her” is a deeply emotional film that invites viewers to empathize with Fiona and Grant as they navigate the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease. The film’s poignant storytelling and powerful performances resonate with audiences, eliciting a range of emotions and leaving a lasting impact.
  2. Authentic Portrayal of Alzheimer’s: The film offers a realistic and sensitive portrayal of Alzheimer’s disease, shedding light on the challenges faced by those living with the disease and their loved ones. “Away from Her” provides valuable insights into the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of Alzheimer’s, fostering greater understanding and empathy for those affected by the disease.
  3. Compelling Narrative: “Away from Her” tells a compelling and deeply moving story of love, loss, and the complexities of marriage. The film explores the intricacies of Fiona and Grant’s relationship as they confront the challenges of Alzheimer’s, offering insight into the power of love to endure in the face of adversity.
  4. Important Social Commentary: The film raises awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on individuals and families, advocating for greater understanding and support for those affected by the disease. Through its sensitive portrayal of Fiona and Grant’s journey, “Away from Her” advocates for compassion, empathy, and dignity in the face of illness and aging.
  5. Beautiful Cinematography: “Away from Her” features stunning cinematography that captures the natural beauty of the Canadian landscape and the intimacy of Fiona and Grant’s relationship. The film’s visual imagery enhances the emotional impact of the story, drawing viewers into the world of the characters and immersing them in their journey.
  6. Universal Themes: While centered around the experience of living with Alzheimer’s disease, “Away from Her” explores universal themes of love, loss, and the passage of time that resonate with audiences of all backgrounds. The film invites viewers to reflect on their own relationships and experiences, fostering empathy and understanding for the complexities of human connection.

Similar Movies

If you enjoyed “Away from Her,” you may also appreciate these other films that share similar themes or production factors:

  1. The Notebook” (2004) – Directed by Nick Cassavetes, this romantic drama tells the story of a young couple who fall in love in the 1940s and face challenges in their relationship as the woman develops Alzheimer’s disease in her old age.
  2. Still Alice” (2014) – Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, this drama follows the story of a renowned linguistics professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and grapples with the challenges of living with the disease.
  3. “Iris” (2001) – Directed by Richard Eyre, this biographical drama follows the life of novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley as they cope with Iris’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. “The Savages” (2007) – Directed by Tamara Jenkins, this comedy-drama follows the story of a brother and sister who must come to terms with their estranged father’s declining health and move him into a nursing home.
  5. “Amour” (2012) – Directed by Michael Haneke, this French-language drama tells the story of an elderly couple facing the challenges of aging and illness as the wife’s health deteriorates due to a stroke.
  6. “Still Mine” (2012) – Directed by Michael McGowan, this drama tells the true story of an elderly couple facing legal challenges as they attempt to build a new home for themselves in their old age.

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