Wednesday, April 25, 2007

AWAY FROM HER - watching a heart break

AWAY FROM HER is that rare thing - a love story featuring a retired couple - played by Julie Christie and Gordon Pinset. After the first flush of love and middle-aged marital infidelity they have settled into a profound emotional and physical relationship. This is snatched away from them when the wife is diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, enters a residential care facility and in forgetting her husband, falls for another man. Julie Christie gives a brave and touching performance as a women struggling to separate her current life from snatched memories that disturb her. But it is Gordon Pinset who quietly reveals a breaking heart as he watches his wife attach herself to another.

AWAY FROM HER is a beautifully written and acted film, based on a short story by Alice Munro and directed by debutante Canadian, Sarah Polley. I loved the graceful moving camera that slowly weaves its way through a cafe of sufferers and families, or moves through a house. It is a patient interrogator of emotions that are selflessly held back as the couple try to handle this tragedy with a touch of grace. However, the disadvantage of such a deliberately patient shooting style is that the film can seem a little dragging in parts. I also found the frequent inter-cutting between the past, the wife's admission to the care facility and the husband's subsequent friendship with his rival's wife (Olympia Dukakis) un-necessarily complicated. Nonetheless, AWAY FROM HER is an important film, and an acting master-class.

AWAY FROM HER played Toronto 2006 and Sundance, Berlin and Dublin 2007. It opens in the UK this Friday, in France on May 2nd, in Norway and the US on May 4th, in the Netherlands on October 4th and in Spain in November.

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