Posted by: kfugrip | July 4, 2007

Back on the chain gang…

I can remember flashes of it, from when I was a little boy.  My aunts had to put the theater seat in the up position and I would sit on the tiny bit that faced upward so I could see over the man sitting in front of me.  Later, when I was older I remember crying, or wanting to cry, when Henry Fonda’s character comes back from a walk in the wood, shaken, because he forgot how to get back to the house.  On Golden Pond was the first experience I had with Alzheimer’s disease and it was pregnant with images like that, images that stay in me.

Away From Her, directed by Sarah Polley, is another story about Alzheimer’s.  A couple who has been married for 44 years faces the disease when Julie Christie’s character begins to disappear (her words).  What follows is a sometimes harrowing and emotional story of a man whose wife no longer recognizes him and falls in love with another man.

The movie was sad, to say it in the simplest terms, and there were few dry eyes in the house.  It was devoid of sentiment, which helped the movie stay out of “movie-of-the-week” territory.  A number of strong performances were at the center of the film, and that’s always a choice to make.  Polley, as a director, made good choices throughout much of the film.  There were a few shots that seemed to feature needless movement and some visual motifs that I didn’t think were working, but I look forward to her next effort.

4 stars.  This was on the boarder between 3 and 4 but I tipped it to 4 because the movie was “sitting well” with me and becoming better as I thought about it.  Strong, understated performances will do that to me.



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