Away from Her Movie Poster Image

Away from Her



Melancholy Alzheimer's drama OK for teens and up.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Allusions to infidelity as well as actual infidelity, though it's put into context. Some condescending behavior toward the sick on the part of an administrator at the assisted-living facility.


None, save for emotional warfare.


A husband and wife have sex, but it's only hinted at. Some kissing.


Fairly mild, except for a few surprising -- though salient -- moments when "f--k" (and a derivative, "clusterf--k") is used.


Some mentions of book titles and authors.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character smokes. Wine is served during a dinner (and actually plays an important role in the plot).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this affecting drama probably isn't too much for young teens in terms of sex, language, and violence, it does touch on adult issues such as infidelity, tackling these topics with a sense of refinement and sensitivity. Watching how Alzheimer's progresses can also be wrenching, and teens may need some guidance to process it all.

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What's the story?

AWAY FROM HER stars Julie Christie as Fiona, a woman who looks vital, regal, yet who is succumbing to Alzheimers. The progressive dementia rips apart what appears to be a storybook marriage to Grant (Gordon Pinsent, in a finely nuanced turn), a former college professor. Married for forty-four years (and childless), they spend their days cooking, taking walks, skiing, and reading to each other in their log cabin by a lake, hardly needing anyone else's company. Until, that is, Fiona starts putting freshly washed pans away in the refrigerator. And can no longer remember how to pronounce the word "wine" or what it means, even as she holds the bottle in her hand. Eventually, the last glorious 20 years they've spent together tucked away in their own private idyll are peeled away, with only the ache of older memories -- "All those sandals, Grant," Fiona says, wincing at his infidelities, "all those pretty girls" -- to keep her company. When Fiona decides to check into an assisted-living facility, it feels like, for a change, she's deserting Grant. And when she rekindles an attachment with Aubrey (Michael Murphy), a man she used to know, it feels like the ultimate abandonment.

Is it any good?


Away From Her (based on Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain") is a beautiful movie. It's not just about the wreckage of a disease: It's also a spot-on meditation on marriage -- the sins forgiven but not forgotten and the transformative power of enduring love. Director Sarah Polley is as subtle and adept at directing -- this is her first feature -- as she is at acting. She knows when to linger and when to pull away, when to be loud and, more often, when to stay quiet. (Director Atom Egoyan, who produced this, must have taught her well. Some elements echo the minimalism he showed in The Sweet Hereafter, in which Polley starred.)

Polley has a sense of humor, too -- as in the way she paints the center's administrator, who obnoxiously starts nearly every sentence of her tour with "As you can see." And Olympia Dukakis gives substance to what could have been a flimsy role as Aubrey's wife. But this excellent drama is Christie's all the way. As Fiona, she is both frail and formidable, as rich and complicated as love is in real life.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts Alzheimer's. Does it seem like a realistic look at the illness and how it devastates families? What about it is surprising (if anything)? And what is the movie's message about aging? Does it portray getting older in the same way that most other movies and TV shows do? How does marriage come across in the movie?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 4, 2007
DVD/Streaming release date:September 11, 2007
Cast:Gordon Pinsent, Julie Christie, Olympia Dukakis
Director:Sarah Polley
Studio:Film Foundry Releasing
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some strong language.

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Parent of a 11 and 13 year old Written bymommyg January 6, 2012


Great Movie...helps your children to understanding this disease.
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul 2.0;... April 9, 2008

I really expected to love this film

But somehow, it just failed to really draw me in. There were two art-house films in 2007 which I especially wanted to see which were about a different type of romance-- Once and Away From Her. Once is now one of my favorite movies of all time and I cannot reccommend it enough. Away From Her, however, I cannot quite say the same for. The themes of undying love and unrequited love from the person you've been married to for many, many years (along with great reviews), moved this movie near the top of my must-see list. But when I finally got a chance to buy it on DVD, it just completely underwhelmed me. There was only one moment when I felt the pain of the main character, a resonation feeling of loss and having to realize that the love of your life can't even remember who you are. Only once though. All other times Michael Murphy's character just seemed like he didn't even really care that much. His character was emotionless (or that's how he came off to me), and it's impossible for an audience to identify with this man's pain if the character himself doesn't even exhibit emotions. Resigned would probably be the best way to describe it-- he came off resigned and uncaring. Not exactly the traits you want to display in a film about undying love. Also, Sarah Polley seemed undecided in her direction-- half the time it seemed like she was trying to develop the Alzheimer's and undying love themes, and the other half she tried-- very weakly-- to work on an undercurrent of infidelity in Murphy's character. That was an utter mistake in my opinion-- it did not fit, it broke any flow of the movie, and felt too weak and thrown in there, not to mention it was never really developed. Plus, there was even a moment where she tried to introduce the idea that perhaps Julie Christie's character was feigning Alzheimer's as a way to get back at Murphy's character for his infidelity-- totally unbelievable, and something I never gave a second thought to as a serious note in the movie. There were some good factors in the movie, such as Christie's acting and good sets and production, but for a movie about undying love and the affects of Alzheimer's on the people around us, it lacked any punch whatsoever, and left me-- like Murphy's character-- resigned and uncaring. The positives however, were that the content in the movie was mild: there were three f-bombs, one not so audible, and the references towards infidelity might make a few parents uncomfortable, but mostly it will fly over younger children's heads. If anyone has had experice with Alzheimer's or someone close to them has suffered from it, then this could be a very emotional or tense movie, so caution would be advised in that circumstance.
Teen, 14 years old Written byMovieFan April 9, 2008

Sad, but really good

What a sad movie. But it's terrific and the acting is first-rate. Julie Christie was nominated for an "Oscar" for her performance, and Gordon Pinset maybe should have been. Sarah Polley, the director, is someone to watch. Content wise, there's nothing but the subject matter, which could upset younger kids. Age reccomendation: 10+ (Or if you have a really mature 8 year-old.)