away-from-her-oct-23rd“A deeply impressive and intelligent film about Alzheimer’s disease” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian). A middle class professional Canadian couple become aware that Fiona (Julie Christie) is in the early stages of the disease and decide that she would be best cared for in a nursing home. When Fiona develops an attachment for another resident, her husband, who had himself been unfaithful during their marriage, finds he must re-examine his marriage past and present. This is an unsentimental and confidently directed film from Sarah Polley, dealing with an often misunderstood subject. (Cert 12A)
Dir: Sarah Polley 105 mins Canada 2007

Programme Notes

Thursday, 23rd October 2008

Canada 2007 105 minutes

First-time feature director Sarah Polley adapted Alice Munro’s poignant story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”, about a long-married academic couple and their lives in the face of the wife’s approaching Alzheimer’s disease. This moving love story is enhanced by its setting in a wintry landscape. Fiona, recognising bouts of memory loss, checks herself into a nursing home, against her husband Grant’s wishes. Contrary to one’s expectations of a depiction of Fiona’s long, slow slide into Alzheimer’s, the story holds some surprises. Fiona develops a close relationship with a fellow patient Aubrey. Grant, who has a philandering past, then visits Aubrey’s wife Marian, having failed to break up this liaison, and the triangle becomes more complex. Other surprises follow.

Julie Christie gives a brilliant performance as Fiona, and is well supported by Gordon Pinsent as Grant and Olympia Dukakis as Marian.

Fiona – Julie Christie
Grant – Gordon Pinsent
Marian – Olympia Dukakis
Aubrey – Michael Murphy
Kristy – Kristen Thompson
Director and writer – Sarah Polley
Editor – David Wharnsby
Cinematography – Luc Montpellier
Original Music – Jonathon Goldsmith
Producers – Daniel Iron, Simone Erdl, Jennifer Weiss

“You may feel put off by the subject. Don’t. The spectacle of love, and of light in darkness, can be a healing one, and it is here. In the hands of this consummate filmmaker and her perfect cast, it’s like a light in darkness, a small beacon in an immensity of cold anxiety, summoning us to radiance.” Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune


“A beautiful film – totally absorbing. Well paced and acted.”

“Very good – what can I say?”

“A for the acting and A for taking on this horrendous subject.”

“A beautiful and moving film but made it all rather dreamlike.”

“What a powerful, sad story – love was stretched to its limits.”

“A great film – we’ll be discussing this one for weeks!”

“Amazing performances but I wonder how true to life it was .. Was it
based on a true story?”

“A brilliant film but, professionally, an appalling treatment (regime), allowing an admission with no preparation and forcing a separation. Thank God we do not allow such appalling practices (here).”

“(This was a) good lesson on what not to do.”

“Terrific film (but) you need money to have those kinds of experiences. Would that make it worse?”

“An excellent film with fine performances – it’s a very fine line between who should be locked up and who (should) not. There seemed to something about ski tracks in the snow.”

“Beautifully acted but oh, so depressing. The lack of noise in (the) home didn’t seem realistic. Ending was disappointing and (rather) abrupt.”

“The (home’s) manageress (was) brilliantly portrayed but otherwise an unworldly fable.”

“Not at all a Spellbound ski scene – such a moving (story) and slippery slope.”

“Gripping but …”

“Brave topic – awful music”

“Difficult topic – nice try but didn’t quite come off.”

“Nicely done but a little sanitised.”

“A bit too slow – almost just [merely?] factual”

“A very well made and sensitive film. In fact, far too bloody sensitive for my taste. May Quentin Tarantino do the re-make!”


A:32, B:9, C:6, D:0, E:0 to give 89%