Away From Her - Beautiful Pain

Duration: 110min
Category: drama
Available: On DVD
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They donít come more beautiful than Julie Christie. She has searingly gorgeous eyes and a smile which just calls out to you. She is striking and itís impossible not to fall in love with her. And it makes the painful tragedy of Away From Her even more palpable as you watch her slip away.

Christie is a woman suffering from Alzheimerís. She decides with her husband, Gordon Pinsent, that it is time to go into a care facility. He resists, saying that heís never wanted to be away from her. But itís her strength that makes them go forward. And once sheís there she gets further and further away and Pinsent must let her go despite every fibre of his being wanting to hold on to the person he loves.

Away From Her is as gorgeous as its lead. Itís filmed in a pristine snow covered wonderland with a loving, nurturing pace. The dialogue is gilded with moments of pure poetry. And the loss is vivid. The film creates a real portrait of real love.

Christieís performance is magic. She never reduces the character to a clichť. Sheís present but somehow vacant and we desperately search for a glint of recognition in her lovely eyes. Pinsent is the centre of the piece. Itís his struggle that is we are engaging. He carries himself through the film with a quiet grace, never once faltering, making us believe his anger although it is always kept lurking under the surface. Olympia Dukakis, as a woman whose husband is also in the institution is brilliant as well. She is full of defences, protecting herself from the pain. Watching this portrait of woman slowing allowing herself to be happy again is a brilliant thing to watch.

Sarah Polley does a wonderful job in her directing debut. Telling a narrative in a non-linear fashion isnít an easy thing to do well, yet she juggles this seamlessly, giving us just what we need at each stage to really be with the characters and hear what they are saying. She also proudly proclaims this film as Canadian. The references, the language, the environment, all feel very true north.

Away From Her is a beautiful film that should not be missed.

Review By: Collin Smith

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