Away From Her - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Away From Her Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 23, 2007
I thought I was watching a great Atom Egoyan movie. Turns out I was watching a great Sarah Polley movie. Very poignant, very Canadian.

Really liked this film. Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie both gave wonderfully full performances.
Super Reviewer
May 29, 2015
A husband's devotion to his wife is tested when she suffers from Alzheimer's and must go to a nursing home.
A slow, sensitive, and deeply affecting drama, Away From Her features wonderful performances by its leads and Sarah Polley's steady directorial hand. Julie Christie is wonderfully tragic, beating Julianne Moore to this punch a long time ago, and Gordon Pinsent, whom I've never seen before, positively carries this film. Grant is flawed - his flaws sometimes hijacking the plot - but he also seems like the type of husband that we might all wish we were or had. And the ending ... well, it's subtle and lovely and very sad.
Overall, with all due respect to Still Alice, Away From Her is one of the best films about Alzheimer's.
Super Reviewer
November 1, 2010
Easily one of the most heartbreaking and saddening films of all time, this directorial debut from actress Sarah Polley deals with the deterioration of a mind, but more importantly a marriage. Set in the drifts of the Canadian snow, Polley creates a vast landscape constructed of bare boned memories and nerve touching emotions. She pieces together a narrative that shows their entire forty four years together, though the love each expresses for the other is encapsulated in tender moments of reflection and reconciliation. As his wife starts to lose her memory bit by bit, Grant (Pinsent) mostly denies that she has a problem at all, and as time passes even further, he has to slowly say goodbye to a woman he has formerly wronged, and made right to. Their love is so deep and lively, with their breadth of knowledge, of inner peace, and that's shown in the performances of Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie, who really remain the most poignant of any onscreen couple. There is nothing more heart aching than watching Christie as she slowly loses any recognition for the man she has loved for most of her life. Pinsent's character remains stoic throughout the incident, and holds out hope for her memory to return, and that makes it all the more heart breaking when it doesn't. The way this film is paced is beautiful, taking into account the lives that they lived before Christie's decline, but also looking at what has happened, at the new relationships that are forming, of letting go to someone you simply can't live without, for their own benefit, and being okay with it. Tears will stream down your face as they lose each other, without one of them ever knowing.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2008
I struggled getting into this one, just because it is such a horrible subject (altzheimers disease). Obviously this was never going to be a laugh a minute. However, the acting by both Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent is so well done that it somehow doesn't wind up totally depressing, even though it probably should be. A bit different to what you normally see in the movies. Recommended.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2009
I have put off seeing this movie. I find movies about Alzheimer's scary since my mother went through it before she passed on. But scary or not, you should see "Away from her". It is wonderfully played and wonderfully directed. Sarah Polley just shows you what Alzheimer's can do.
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 2007
Directed by: Sarah Polley.
Starring: Julie Christie, Olypmia Dukakis, Gordon Pinsent.

<<"I'd like to make love, and then I'd like you to go. Because I need to stay here and if you make it hard for me, I may cry so hard I'll never stop.">>

The story introduces us to elderly married couple Fiona and Grant, of 44 years, who are still very much in love since they day they got married. Fiona has Alzheimer's and is slowly deteriorating away at such a young age, it has come to the point that they must send her to a nursing home. There, she is left for 30 days to adjust away from Grant (or as such, the other way around) and when he goes to visit, he must deal with the pain of what she has come to and the strange affection Fiona has built with another male patient.

No words of mine can describe the sheer beauty and brilliance of this film, a film deserving of Oscars, that I hope this time next year, the film will be recognized by a wider audience.

The strongest element of this film is most certainly Sarah Polley, a young actress of 28 years old doing her first directional/writing feature debut and she is wise beyond her years. She has created a poetic masterpiece that is so pure and so well developed, the dialogue is amazingly strong and thoughtful, she injects such humanity and heart into every element of this picture that she seems to finally be a light in dark Hollywood.

Julie Christie has only ever been a name to me, being the age that I am, I don't think I have had the pleasure of seeing her films to see why her name is praised so I can see why. She delivers one of the most heartwarming, heartbreaking, powerfully poetic performances in many years, she shows such great range and her experience shines through on screen, if she doesn't win the Oscar next year, then it will be a disgrace.

The supporting cast is also very strong, from the humorous ex-sports caster and cheeky elderly woman, to the simple roles of silence from the patients, but the standout is Gordon Pinset. Another actor I wish I had seen along time ago. He has a very tricky role that requires a lot of depth,control and most of all, believability...and he hits it right on the head. Its all in his eyes and his face, he shows wisdom in his years, his face appears very detailed to show a hard life, his eyes have so much love and loss in them, that he steals every scene he is in.

Unforgettable, poetic, deep, moving, thoughtful, heartwarming, words of mine can do this film any justice, it needs to be seen and loved. A masterpiece.


<< "I think all we can aspire to in this situation is a little bit of grace. " >>
Super Reviewer
½ July 12, 2008
Not a bad movie but it's so overrated, The main storyline is good and all but the movie is somehow uninteresting specially in its dialogue lines
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2008
Overrated TV style movie about husband's inability to make peace with his wife's Alzheimer's disease. Difficult to care about a character who has no emotion for the husband that loves her.
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2008
Because I have known people who've died from complications due to Alzheimer's, and because my dad is actually right now "on the second floor," it is difficult for me to take this film to task. So I'll go easy with just this one sticking point. The whole adultery angle, historically in one marriage, and current in both, is pervasive to a point of undercutting and even obscuring the depth of love these two pairs of husbands and wives have felt for each other and how each has been impacted by the disease acting upon one spouse. Pinsent's bartering with forced companionship and finally sex with Dukakis for the hope of bringing happiness to his wife by hauling Murphy back to the care facility is fairly disturbing. He was a philanderer then, and he's a philanderer now. Maybe he would be well served if Christie were in part seeking to punish him for his wandering eye by "faking" the progression of her illness. Did they really want to introduce this into the story? It's a mistake. I've read and enjoyed a lot of Munro, but I've not read this story. My guess is, if this is a close adaptation, that I would not enjoy the story. Enough. Julie Christie pulls off one of her better performances here, but if you want to see a truly moving film about the devastating effects of Alzheimer's, you must see Memories of Tomorrow (Ashita no kioku) with Ken Watanabe.
Super Reviewer
½ July 7, 2007
This movie has some heartbreaking scenes, but there are also a couple of scenes that seem to be from a totally different movie.
Super Reviewer
February 4, 2008
a quiet bittersweet film about the tragedy of alzheimer's. really touching and very nice job by sarah polley in her directorial debut. much better than the notebook actually
Super Reviewer
September 23, 2007
Better than even it's high acclaim had lead me to believe. An extraordinary directorial debut from Sarah Polley.
Super Reviewer
January 16, 2008
Julie Christie's performance in Away From Her is one of the three frontrunners for 2007's Best Actress race, and I think it deserves the win. I think the creation of a compelling original character is always more impressive than a mimicry job, and as fantastic as Marion Cotillard was in La Vie En Rose, Christie's performance is less showboaty and more human. Ellen Page is kind of choking on their dust, but some seem to disagree; to each their own. Not to mention that this film is the strongest of the three competitors, a heartbreaking and turbulent jewel from Sarah Polley.

Away From Her deals with the death of love in a very odd way. I found it surprisingly difficult to watch that love fade from Fiona's mind while it still burns brightly in Grant's - a termination of their 45-year marriage in the worst of ways. I wouldn't call this a tearjerker, because it's too restrained for flashy emotional displays. What it is is a sobering, tragic tale. It just made me feel kind of bummed out and heartsick. Even the ending, which closes the film on a ray of hope, is brought back to moribund reality when you remember an earlier line from a nurse.

This could easily have become a fatty angst-fest, but Polley does a better job than that. Like I said before, the characters keep themselves from exploding into any hysterics or long-winded emotional rumination. The movie is infused with just a few touches of humor and levity, which kept me from being completely miserable the entire time. Away From Her is always full of bright snowy light; it's difficult to describe its effect on the movie. To descend into a cheesy metaphor, I guess it reminded me a little bit of heaven, like some sort of resting place for the love that Fiona cherished so deeply before she fell apart.

If this movie doesn't make you terrified of Alzheimer's, you probably don't have a soul. Polley makes Grant's struggle very accessible to the audience: we see that he has spent 45 years with a personality that fills him, completes him, and now he must watch it disintegrate before his eyes. I couldn't begin to imagine what that would be like, losing an old friend or loved one to this condition. Away From Her presents the viewer with that very real possibility in an even-handed, touching way.
Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2007
Fantastically directed and written by young actress/filmmaker Sarah Polley (in her directorial debut), Away From Her it's a little slow paced, but it's touching and heartwarming, specially for Julie Christie (who gives an amazing performance as a woman with Alzheimer's disease; and i must add that she is really beautiful, despite her 66 years of age) and Gordon Pinsent (the heartbroken husband). Kristen Thomson and Oympia Dukakis did a nice work too.
Super Reviewer
December 29, 2007
If someone had told me that the 28 year old star of the Dawn of the Dead remake would be able to direct such a moving and emotional tale I would have slapped them in their ridiculous face. The film is quite stunning in terms of performances and screenplay and manages to avoid a story that very easily could have been melodramatic or even Made for TV sentimental. Heartbreakingly sad accompanied by a few laughs which help the digestion of a film that isn't overly sentimental.
Super Reviewer
December 9, 2007
With Away From Her we have a very fine example of Canadian filmmaking from prolific young actress Sarah Polley. She directs Julie Christie and Gorden Pinsent in an adaptation based on an Alice Munroe story. It's about the marriage of Grant & Fiona that lasts 50 years, and how things begin to shift with Fiona being affected by Alzheimer's disease. This film is a bittersweet study of marriage and illness, old age, fidelity, among other themes. It's tender and humorous, very well written and directed. Although I thought I'd heard some people praising this film as something like the second coming, but it;s not quite that, but it is very good, and it is an immense success for Polley, who proves she has the talent to do just about anything in the film industry. This film establishes her as an great young auteur and I really look forward to what she does next be it acting or in the director's chair again. And lest I forget the wonderful performances; the leads are awesome in their roles, but Olympia Dukakis came close to stealing the show in a couple scenes as Grant's would-be mistress, Marian. She was fantastic and showed what a great actor does in a supporting role. This film reminded me why I should support the film industry of my own country more. A good achievement on all fronts.
Super Reviewer
December 1, 2007
A great piece of Canadian film from first-time director Sarah Polley, this movie will break your heart repeatedly over the first 40 minutes or so. After that, though, a lot of the action sends the plot madly off in all directions, and I feel like she knew she had to scale back the intensity (so that it would remain watchable), but that she really didn't know what to do next, and particularly, that she didn't know how to end it. A film that really corrects the popular treatment of Alzheimer's seen in The Notebook, this is a beautifully shot film that features an Academy-notice worthy Julie Christie and a stoic-as-ever Gordon Pinsent. Bonus points for local colour: not only is it filmed in Brantford, Ontario, it actually admits it and sets the story there, turning it into anytown, Canada. A very successful debut for Polley, and one of the better Canadian films I've ever seen.
Super Reviewer
½ July 17, 2007
This is an actor's film. Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent each give mesmerizing performances and inhabit their characters in such a way I was, these two have a history together. Sarah Polley guides events along in a seamless manner, letting the actors shine individually while restraining these moments to make the movie more cohesive. Out of the three movies recently made about Alzheimer's (The Notebook, Iris, and this), Away From Her is by far the best. And I really dig those Canadian accents.
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