Away From Her (Polley, 2007)

I can’t imagine losing someone I love, let alone to such a leisurely killer like Alzheimer’s disease. For her directing debut, actor Sarah Polley chooses to examine such a heartbreaking loss, specifically the story of retired professor Grant (Gordon Pinsent) and his beautiful but mentally fading wife of forty years Fiona (the amazing Julie Christie). The first act stands alone as a dazzling and haunting display of editing and mise-en-scene, Fiona’s connection with life beginning to dissolve to white as her short term memories disappear. Framed by the reflecting snow of the Canadian winter, Grant must come to terms with his wife’s debilitating condition and her shifting affections for another patient. While the script churns at a very slow rate, Polley’s direction is flawless, allowing the actors room to shine while her camera calmly maneuvers through retirement home rooms and hallways. Away From Her slowly builds to a calm crescendo of compassion and it’s a painful but ultimately hopeful experience, one that reveals scars of the past and some semblance of a future.

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