Away From Her

Rated 5.0

A well-matched, blithely august husband and wife find their rural Ontario idyll—and the foundations of their bond—disrupted by her Alzheimer’s disease. In 44 years of marriage, Fiona and Grant (Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent) have achieved an intimacy of practical telepathy; in 30 days, they’ll become strangers. Sarah Polley’s magnanimous and devastating directorial debut (adapted by Polley from an Alice Munroe short story) is hardly just another melodrama of affliction. It is, profoundly, a love story. Where some young filmmakers flaunt ambiguity as insurance against their own sloppy intentions, Polley puts it to use with wrenching precision. (She has help from a magnificent cast, which also includes Olympia Dukakis in a typically sturdy, humane turn.) There’s a troubling suggestion here of what it takes for lovers to really transcend recriminations—namely, a literal mindlessness—but also a beautiful, clear-eyed view of all that a marriage can be, with the redemptive power of time and true kindness and fearless commitment.