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By now you’ve heard how Away From Her is classic Oscar bait: mental illness, old people, former Oscar winners, old people having sex. Which is fine, Oscar may be silly for only considering a small subset of movies, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that subset is silly. And indeed, Away From Her is a perfectly decent movie. But, I found it surprisingly emotionless. I think that’s why Gordon Pinsent touched off some discussion here. For the most part, his is the only character allowed to show emotion. Even then, there are very few scenes where we get to see anything other than him refusing to accept the inevitable, resigned frustration, and resigned acceptance. Brian remarks that since we didn’t really get to see Grant and Fiona before Fiona’s slide, we can’t really be emotionally invested in them. I’d agree with the lack of emotional investment, but I’d argue that director and screenwriter Sarah Polley had more options at her disposal than only showing earlier parts of their relationship. It is therefore somewhat interesting to watch the events of the movie, but hard to “care” about them, in the sense of caring about the characters. Anecdotal evidence (a phrase that generally translates to: “I’m too lazy to do actual research, but this sounds plausible”) suggests that adapting a movie from a short story can lead to poorly fleshed out, too-sparse movies.

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Well, this is the Golden Grouches, so I guess it’s about time that I got grouchy. I went in with low expectations, and they were basically met. Away from Her was a boring drama with no real plot; it lacked tension, exposition, and in general…anything interesting. To top it off, Julie Christie’s role wasn’t even the leading part. The film was about Grant Anderson, played by Gordon “One Look” Pinsent, and how he coped with watching his wife fall apart.

For a change, I won’t write much about Away From Her, and that’s mostly because it was so uninteresting. The only scenes that had any buzz to them were when Olympia Dukakis, in a well-done bitch role, and Pinsent played off each other. Otherwise, I was bored silly. Like Adam said, the play-by-play patient in the nursing home was the only time I even cracked a smile during the film. Read the rest of this entry »

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie (which also brings up the point: Always go into movies with low expectations.). It had a decent plot that moved along while “moving” the audience; the performances by the main characters were, in my opinion, terrific; and the supporting pieces of the movie (scenery, music, supporting cast) along with the camera work were very well done. All-in-all a good, solid movie (not Best Picture quality, but good).

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Away From Her seemed to be the Little Critical Darling That Could from this summer. It centers around Grant (Gordon Pinsent) and Fiona (Julie Christie), a long-married couple in Canada. She is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and they struggle with the decision to put her in a nursing home. When she does eventually enter, the home’s rules prevent Grant from visiting for the first month while Fiona settles in. When he does visit, she is distant towards and had made friends – or more? – with another resident. Even more than a film about Alzheimer’s this is a film about marriage. It’s revealed that their marriage has not always been smooth and Grant feels like he may be paying for past transgressions when Fiona slips away from him.

Away From Her is about 40% great. The first part is tremendous. Fiona has more and more episodes and Grant anguishes letting her leave to go to the home. Their love and pain is incredibly moving.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep it up. Read the rest of this entry »

July 2020