Away From Her Sarah Polley

Away From Her Sarah Polley
Polley brings to the screen Alice Munro’s novel about Alzheimer’s, old age and a love triangle of sorts. The ageless Julie Christie portrays Fiona, who lives in contentment with her husband of 50 years, Grant (Gordon Pinsent), until gradual memory loss reduces her to a helpless child. After moving into a special nursing home, Fiona forgets who Grant is and enters into an affair with a fellow resident and Alzheimer’s sufferer, played by the ever-silent Michael Murphy. Grant struggles to accept not only his wife’s physical condition but her new lover, who represents Fiona’s only link to the world. In doing so, Grant hooks up with Murphy’s long-suffering wife, portrayed by the superb Olympia Dukakis, who threatens to steal the film with her performance. Away From Her is a sensitive drama that rings true, though it doesn’t live up to the hype that heralded its theatrical release last spring. Christie is superb but her character seems too lucid at times, and too willing to enter the nursing home. A greater problem is Grant’s character; Gordon fares well as the stoic and supportive husband but he’s too passive. At times, his character begs for added dimension. As a double disc, this release is generous, though short of definitive. We get several deleted scenes, some of which are quite good, one of which features Polley’s helpful commentary. Another highlight is the inclusion of her short film, I Shout Love, which also features commentary. However, the obligatory "making of” featurette is too short to make an impression. What’s really missing is a Polley commentary for the actual film. Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see a Canadian drama receive such attention in its DVD release. Let’s hope for more. (Mongrel Media)