Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

28 January 2008

Away From Her, dir. Sarah Polley (2006)

NIKKI says:
I've been looking forward to this movie, mainly because it's by Sarah Polley. She's about my age, intensely political, and proves in every movie she does that girls with crooked teeth are hot. I was a bit surprised at her subject matter here, knowing how political she is, and considering her age. But, that's her thing -- she's always different, always surprising.

This is a story about a man coming to terms with his wife's Alzheimer's. It's based on a short story by Canadian author, Alice Munro. I've not read the short story, and perhaps it's set up similarly, but the thing that struck Steve and I the most about the film is its structure. It's steadily told, slowly building its characters, before entirely altering our perceptions of them to enormous effect. In this way, Polley gives what is really a quiet, slow-moving film incredible suspense and rising tension.

I've made no secret of how pissed off I am that Ben Affleck didn't get an Adapted Screenplay nomination for his film -- but Sarah Polley did and that kinda makes up for it. Because she should get it.

Her direction was good, too. She did that thing we love so much where the setting became a real part of the film's story. Lots of lingering shots on the snowy Canadian landscape. Great use of flashbacks, obvious adoration of her actors who are given so much room to just be brilliant.

We were also taken by the performances in the movie. Julie Christie is receiving all the buzz, and she was great, but Gordon Pinsent, who plays her husband, is even better. He never loses this stoic facade, and it's mesmerising.

My memorable moment in the film, and I'll have to find out if it's in the short story, comes when the husband is finally forced to relent and send his wife to "the second floor", where patients entering dementia live out their days. He stands at the elevator. A patient, a former sports broadcaster, who narrates everything he sees as though it's a hockey game, walks by. His summation of the husband's moment is wrenching.

I can't fault this film. It was superb.


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