Away from Her

Director: Sarah Polley
Year: 2006
Country: Canada
Running time: 110 mins

Screenplay: Sarah Polley. Based on the short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” by Alice Munro
Photography: Luc Montpellier
Editor: David Wharnsby
Music: Jonathan Goldsmith
M offensive language

With: Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Kristen Thomson, Wendy Crewson

Festivals: Toronto, Vancouver 2006; Berlin 2007


Sarah Polley's debut feature is as considered and mature as her performances in such films as The Sweet Hereafter, My Life Without Me and The Secret Life of Words (also in this programme). Adapted from a short story by Canadian writer Alice Munro, the film is about an elegantly ageing couple, Fiona (Julie Christie) and Grant (Gordon Pinsent), who face the tragic dissolution of their life together after Fiona is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Insisting on going out with dignity, Fiona checks into a nursing home, and this turns out to be only the starting point for this brave, surprising film encompassing love, sex and the elusiveness of memory. Left alone in their empty home, Grant is wracked with guilt over past indiscretions. Meanwhile, Fiona develops an attachment to a fellow patient she claims to have known in her youth. "A precociously assured and mature work, at once humble and bold, that keeps faith with Munro's precise, graceful prose while tailoring its linear progression into shapely cinematic form." - Ella Taylor, Village Voice