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Movie Review: Away From Her

Alternate Title: Fade to Black

Story: How do you make a film about Alzheimer's new, subtle and surprising without having the usual sappy sobfest seen on those Lifetime movies? Debut feature film director and writer, young Sarah Polley has created an amazing must see film. This 27 year old actor is wise beyond her years. Her film is based on the short story by Alice Munro (The Bear That Came Over the Mountain) that first appeared in the New Yorker in 2000.

The ravages of Alzheimer's creeps into the seemingly idyllic lives of Fiona and Grant, who have been married for 44 years. They jointly decide she should enter a residential facility to deal with the disease. We witness moments of brilliant direction and acting that will take your breath away.

Please do not let the topic of Alzheimer's keep you away from this film that is filled with love, pathos and humor. I await Ms Polley's future endeavors.

Acting: Julie Christie is nothing short of astonishing in this role as Fiona. Christie at 66 is still a knock out and it is refreshing to see an actress who has not had any cosmetic surgery. She is glorious. Gordon Pinsent as Grant is also wonderful. He is a bear of a man and plays the part with loving sensitivity. Olympia Dukakis does not fall much out of the reach of her usual down to earth roles but she is also terrific. The rest of the cast is superb as well.

Predilection: I like Sarah Polley as an actor and one of her films (The Secret Life of Words) was on my top ten Lobo list last year

Food: There are several scenes in the kitchen where food is lovingly prepared.

Blatant Product Placement: Ford

Soundtrack: The haunting music of Neil Young stays with you throughout the film.

Opening Titles: An overview of the idyllic lakeside location where this couple has retired.

Visual Art: The art in the 'home' is nothing short of comical.

Theater Audience: Crowded for a Tuesday afternoon. The lions share of people were gray haired but there were plenty of younger folk too.

Weather: Canada looks very snowy in the winter.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: The only drifts I saw were snow drifts.

Predictability Level: Moderate

Tissue Usage: I admit to the occasional weepies.

Oscar Worthy: Yes

Big Screen or Rental: Julie Christie is a sensational actor. Have yourself a Julie Christie festival and rent some of these great films: The Secret Life of Words, Finding Neverland, Afterglow, Heaven Can Wait, Shampoo, Don't Look Now, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Petulia, Far from the Madding Crowd, Fahrenheit 451, Billy Liar, Darling and the oh so wonderful, Doctor Zhivago

Length: Under two hours.