Grant (Gordon Pinsent, who deserves an Oscar nod) copes after putting Fiona (Julie Chistie, ditto), his Alzheimer's-stricken wife of about 50 years, into Canada's Meadowlake care facility. He also struggles with her increasing distance from him (and her closeness to another resident) during daily visits.
Big question: Can the feature writing and directing debut for Sarah Polley (seen in "The Sweet Hereafter" and the remake of "Dawn of the Dead") turn Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" into a romantic tale that's not totally depressing?
Catch it: "Away From Her" embodies the beauty of living parallel lives and the pain experienced when the person you could never leave drifts away from you. While the Meadowlake administrator repeatedly mentions the building's abundance of natural light, Grant's heartbreak is the fear that his wife's mind will soon be in a place that even sunlight can't illuminate.
Skip it: If you're so anti-hockey that you don't even want to see people onscreen watching the sport. Chicago doesn't care, but Canada certainly does!
Bottom line: Grant and Fiona aren't without their problems--the film hints at past infidelity--but their enduring bond makes them the kind of couple every couple wants to be. As sappy as it sounds, the generous and unbelievably beautiful "Away From Her" will make even the coldest hearts believe in love.
Bonus: In the wake of films like "I Think I Love My Wife," "Climates," "Breaking and Entering" and "The Last Kiss," this is the first serious romantic movie in ages that hasn't made us feel like people are weak, commitment is hopeless and relationships are doomed!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'Away From Her'
Directed and written by Sarah Polley; based on the short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" by Alice Munro; photographed by Luc Montpellier; edited by David Wharnsby; music by Jonathan Goldsmith; production design by Kathleen Climie; produced by Daniel Iron, Simone Erdl, Jennifer Weiss. A Lionsgate release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:50. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for some strong language).
Fiona - Julie Christie
Grant - Gordon Pinsent
Marian - Olympia Dukakis
Kristy - Kristen Thompson
Aubrey - Michael Murphy
Madeleine - Wendy CrewsonCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times