Away from Her

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Away from Her Movie Poster Image
Melancholy Alzheimer's drama OK for teens and up.
  • PG-13
  • 2007
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

Violence

None, save for emotional warfare.

Sex

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

Language

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

Consumerism

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).

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 and 13 year old Written bymommyg January 6, 2012

gmom

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 r... Continue reading
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 Pin... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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