Away from Her
Canada, 2006 (fiction, 110 minutes, colour, English)
Also known as
"An ihrer Seite", "Daleko od niej", "Egyre távolabb", "Kaukana poissa", "Lejos de ella", "Loin d'elle", "Longe Dela", "Lontano da lei"
"Away from Her is a screen adaptation of Alice Munro's short story, The Bear Came Over the Mountain. Married for 50 years, Grant and Fiona's life together is full of tenderness and humour, their serenity broken only by Fiona's references to the past and her increasingly evident memory loss. When Grant moves Fiona into a nursing home specializing in Alzheimer's disease, he is not allowed to visit for the first month so she can 'adjust'. When he sees her again, she has forgotten him and turned her affection to Aubrey, another resident. Heartbroken, Grant visits daily, bearing witness to the growing bond between Fiona and Aubrey. When Aubrey's wife, Marian, takes Aubrey home, Fiona becomes deeply depressed, and Grant embarks on his greatest act of self-sacrifice."
-- Telefilm Canada
"Grant (Gordon Pinsent) and Fiona (Julie Christie) have been married for
decades. [...] Now retired, they live comfortably in a house in the country,
but their contentment is permanently disrupted when Fiona's memory
starts to deteriorate. Determined not to saddle Grant with her declining
health, she insists on going into a rest home -- which only tears Grant
-- Toronto International Film Festival
|Film Credits (partial):
||"The Bear Came Over the Mountain," a short story by Alice Munro|
||Atom Egoyan, Victoria Hirst, Daniel Iron, Doug Mankoff, Simone Urdl, Jennifer Weiss|
||Gordon Pinsent, Julie Christie, Olympia Dukakis, Deanna Dezmari, Clare Coulter, Thomas Hauff, Alberta Watson, Grace Lynn Kung, Lili Francks, Andrew Moodie, Wendy Crewson, Judy Sinclair, Tom Harvey, Carolyn Heatherington, Melanie Merkosky, Kristen Thomson, Jessica Booker, Janet van de Graaf, Michael Murphy, Vanessa Vaughan, Catherine Fitch, Ron Hewat, Jason Knight, Nina Dobrev|
||The Film Farm, Foundry Films Inc., Pulling Focus Pictures|
Awards won by Away from Her
Notes about Away from Her
- Nominated for two Academy Awards, in the Writing (Adapted Screenplay) category (Sarah Polley) and the Actress in a Leading Role category (Julie Christie).
- Shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006.
Quote by the Director
"In a first feature, there is this temptation to do cartwheels, to make sure
everyone sees every facet of your skill set. But it's not about you any more;
it's about the story you're telling."
-- Sarah Polley
Quotes by the Director [in French]
"La nouvelle d'Alice Munro L'ours qui traversa les montagnes m'avait bouleversée. J'ai eu tout de suite envie de l'adapter. C'est une romancière si honnête, capable d'explorer les zones d'ombre de ses personnages. Nul n'est blanc ou noir dans son univers."
-- Sarah Polley
"Ma grand-mère était atteinte de démence sénile et mon oncle, ancien chroniqueur de hockey à la radio (qui m'a inspiré un des personnages), d'une maladie proche d'Alzheimer. Mais ce qui m'intéressait avant tout, c'était d'analyser comment un couple qui s'aime toujours et a résisté pendant presque un quart de siècle à l'usure du temps, aux petites trahisons et mesquineries du quotidien, pouvait ou non survivre à un passé décomposé, perdu, volatilisé."
-- Sarah Polley
Quotes about Away from Her
"[Sarah Polley's] script adroitly rearranges Munro's scenes and dialogue when necessary, and fills in the characterizations of Marian and the plucky nurse Kristy in a way that not only makes them plum roles for Olympia Dukakis and Kristen Thompson but deepens the compassion of the drama and brings a novel's expansiveness to Munro's economically told tale without adulterating its texture."
-- Richard Alleva
"The movie, [Sarah] Polley's feature debut, is a small-scale triumph that could herald a great career. In general, she works close to her actors, and is confident enough to let scenes remain ambiguous--the meanings build slowly, by accretion. But she also demonstrates an impressive feeling for the spiritual meaning of landscape, as when Fiona, on skis, finds herself isolated in the snow and, looking around at the open fields, experiences the terror of a life without signposts."
-- David Denby
"One of many surprising qualities about Sarah Polley's film, Away from
Her, based on a great story by Alice Munro, is this 28-year-old
first-time director's ability to see the strange poetic element in
Alzheimer's -- not only see it but bring it into focus with hard, clear
images, eloquently plain dialogue and poetic references that seem as natural in the film as the snowy southwestern Ontario fields."
-- Robert Fulford
"[Sarah Polley's] directing flows and interweaves; and she has an enlarging quality of
reticence, which makes key moments strong by not exploiting them. But
her master touch is in evolving the chill, even on the sunniest days, that is
enveloping Grant as he watches the cloud approach and Fiona
equanimously welcoming it."
-- Stanley Kauffmann
"Munro's story gets a canny, admirable adaptation from Sarah Polley, the
accomplished Canadian actress making her feature directorial debut. Apart
from being a film about old age from a woman in her late 20s, Away
from Her is a film rich in paradoxes. Much of the film's style is
dreamy, from the snow-covered Ontario landscapes suggestive of a
blanket of forgetfulness, to Julie Christie's pale, intoxicating beauty, to the
ambient musical score. Yet this is a story that's also spiked with
suppressed anguish and unexpected emotional reversals."
-- Liam Lacey
"One of the most powerful and yet unpretentious examinations of human
bonding ever put to the screen, Away From Her is not only a
remarkable achievement for a first-time feature director, it's easily one of
the best Canadian films ever made."
-- Katherine Monk
"[Away from Her's] greatest virtue lies in [Sarah] Polley's careful avoidance of sentimentality, showy cinematic style, feel-good jokes, or sublime images of nature -- all common strategies in films of this type. [...] The film's few touches of humor have an undertone of sadness, and the quietly subdued imagery of snow and cross-country skiing is nicely used to suggest key themes -- marriage, separation, aging, the end of a relationship, and the loss of memory."
-- James Naremore
"There is great potential for torrential sentiment in this material, but it's to
the movie's credit, not to mention that of the impeccable lead performances
and [Sarah] Polley's smartly adapted script, that it's kept tightly capped. Not that
the emotional force isn't there, it is: in the way Grant looks at Fiona as she
drifts away from him, and it's in every moment that indicates a shared
memory either utterly forgotten or suddenly retrieved."
-- Geoff Pevere
"In finding a bridge between the documentary authenticity of traditional Canadian art film and the direct connection of popular cinema, [Sarah] Polley suggests a way forward for English-Canadian film [...]."
-- David L. Pike
"The first feature written and directed by Sarah Polley, one of the most interesting actresses to come out of Canada in the past decade, [Away from Her] is by turns sharp and somber, alive to the lacerations of ordinary experience and quietly attentive to grand absurdities and small instances of grace."
-- A.O. Scott
"The film [Away from Her] both significantly shifts the narrative balance of [Alice] Munro's tale and, through its use of space and landscape, tells a different story. The most obvious shift is its use of Fiona's voice, which in the film is imbued with the distancing irony of Munro's narration."
-- Sue Thornham
Quote about Away from Her [in French]
"Polley signe une première oeuvre empreinte d'une forte dose d'humanisme, qui ne sombre jamais dans le pathos ou le mélodrame. [...] Sa mise en scène sobre s'attarde longuement au visage des personnages, scrute leur intériorité avec pudeur et retenue. On sent la profonde affection pour eux de la cinéaste."
-- Jean-Philippe Desrochers
Publications by the Director about Away from Her
- Polley, Sarah. "Preface." In Away from Her, by Alice Munro. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2007.
Bibliography for Away from Her
- Munro, Alice. Away from Her. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2007.
- Fladd, Nadine. "'Stunning and Strange': Iceland as Memory and Prophecy in Alice Munro's 'White Dump' and Sarah Polley's 'Away from Her'." In Double-Takes: Intersections between Canadian Literature and Film, edited by David R. Jarraway, 59-76. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2013.
- Oughton, Karen. "The Home, the Body and Otherness: Canadian Representations of Identity and Feminism in Mary Harron's American Psycho, Sarah Polley's Away from Her and the Soska Sisters' American Mary." In Celluloid Ceiling: Women Film Directors Breaking Through, edited by Gabrielle Kelly and Cheryl Robson, 54-76. Twickenham, U.K.: Supernova Books, 2014.
Brief Sections of Books
- Basting, Anne Davis. Forget Memory: Creating Better Lives for People with Dementia. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009. (pp. 47-49)
- Leach, Jim. Film in Canada, 2nd ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2011. (pp. 207-210)
- Thornham, Sue. What If I Had Been the Hero?: Investigating Women's Cinema. London: Palgrave Macmillan on behalf of the British Film Institute, 2012. (pp. 131-137)
- Cicero, Caroline, and Craig Detweiler. "Solidarity and Ambivalence in Away From Her." Journal of Aging, Humanities and the Arts 3, no. 1 (March 2009): 76-80.
- McGill, Robert. "No Nation but Adaptation: 'The Bear Came Over the Mountain,' 'Away from Her,' and What It Means to Be Faithful." Canadian Literature, no. 197 (Summer 2008): 98-111.
- Oatley, Keith. "Coming together." Review of Away from Her. PsycCRITIQUES 52, no. 39 (2007).
- Peters, Harry. "Niet ver weg van haar verhaal: boekverfilming Away from her." Skrien 39, no. 9-10 (November-January 2007-2008): 22-25. [in Dutch]
Brief Sections of Journal Articles
- Naremore, James. "Films of the Year, 2007." Film Quarterly 61, no. 4 (2008). (pp. 57-58)
Newspaper or Magazine Articles
- Alleva, Richard. "Cheating to be Faithful: 'Away from Her'." Review of Away from Her. Commonweal, June 15, 2007.
- Ansen, David. "Love's labor's lost." Review of Away from Her. Newsweek, May 14, 2007.
- Baudin, Brigitte. "Un couple au passé décomposé." Le Figaro, May 2, 2007. [in French]
- Bradshaw, Peter. "Forgive and forget: Sarah
Polley's directorial debut is a spellbinding, delicate Alzheimer's drama:
Away from Her." Review of Away from Her. Guardian, April 27, 2007.
- Calhoun, Dave. "Film: Close up: Sarah Polley." Interview with Sarah Polley. Time Out, May 11, 2007.
- Castaldo, Joe. "That vision thing." Interview with Sarah Polley. Canadian Business, September 11, 2006.
- Cochrane, Kira. "'I felt like a crazy stalker'." Interview with Sarah Polley. Guardian, April 13, 2007, Film & Music section.
- Denby, David. "Games of chance: The current cinema." Review of Away from Her. New Yorker, May 14, 2007.
- Desrochers, Jean-Philippe. "Away from Her." Review of Away from Her. Séquences, July-August 2007. [in French]
- Diva. "Away from Her." Review of Away from Her. Diva, no. 132, 2007.
- Fulford, Robert. "A loss of language and the language of loss: the poetics of Alzheimer's." National Post, May 15, 2007.
- Garbarz, Franck. "Loin d'elle : le deuil de la mémoire." Review of Away from Her. Positif, May 2007. [in French]
- Globe & Mail. "Director Sarah Polley turns Munro story into feature." Globe and Mail, February 22, 2006.
- Goldstein, Meredith. "First-time director is picture of
maturity: Sarah Polley, 28, earns raves for 'Away From Her'." Boston Globe, May 13, 2007, LivingArts section.
- Griffin, John. "Young age can't mask Sarah Polley's
old soul: Her feature-length directorial debut, Away from Her, carries the
assurance of a veteran artist -- which she is." Montreal Gazette, May 12, 2007, Final edition.
- Harvey, Dennis. "Away from Her." Review of Away from Her. Variety, September 25, 2006.
- Horn, John. "Write of passage: Sarah Polley the filmmaker comes of age after adapting a difficult Alice Munro story for the big screen." Interview with Sarah Polley. Toronto Star, February 23, 2008.
- Johnson, Brian D. "Goodbye to that jagged little
pill: A mellower Sarah Polley plays parent to some elder icons for her
stunning directorial debut." Maclean's, May 7, 2007.
- Johnson, Brian D. "A star is reborn, behind the camera:
Directing her first movie, the ever-precocious Sarah Polley finds magic in
age-old love." Interview with Sarah Polley. Maclean's, September 11, 2006.
- Kauffmann, Stanley. "People in shadows." Review of Away from Her. New Republic, May 21, 2007.
- Kelly, Brendan. "Canuck film finds homegrown
hero." Variety, July 16, 2007.
- Kelly, Brendan. "Kudos for Polley pic." Variety, April 25, 2007.
- Knight, Chris. "A heartbreaking
departure of both mind and love." Review of Away from Her. National Post, May 4, 2007, All But Toronto edition, Arts section.
- Lacey, Liam. "Sarah Polley makes an assured
directing debut." Globe and Mail, May 4, 2007.
- Lacey, Liam. "Top 10 of 2006: Sarah Polley: She's had a
milestone year in front of and behind the camera. But she hasn't let the
bright Hollywood lights distort her vision." Globe and Mail, December 22, 2006.
- Lussier, Marc-André. "Away from Her : Sarah Polley : naissance d'une cinéaste." Interview with Sarah Polley. La Presse, May 5, 2007. [in French]
- MacDonald, Gayle. "Away from Her: Win improves chances for Oscar nom; Polley thrilled by Julie Christie's Golden Globe nod." Interview with Sarah Polley. Globe and Mail, January 15, 2008.
- Matheou, Demetrios. "Not remembering to
forget." Interview with Sarah Polley. Sight & Sound, May 2007.
- Medley, Mark. "Away from Her close to a sweep: Sarah Polley's directorial debut wins almost all major trophies." Montreal Gazette, March 4, 2008.
- Mitchell, Elvis. "Sarah Polley: Actors who say they
want to direct are a dime a dozen--but ones who make movies like hers are
few and far between." Interview with Sarah Polley. Interview, June 2007.
- Monk, Katherine. "Ache of loss: Sarah Polley's tale of
grief is a remarkable achievement." Review of Away from Her. Ottawa Citizen, May 11, 2007, Final edition, Front section.
- Munso, Danny. "Away from Her." Creative Screenwriting, March 2007.
- Patterson, Hannah. "Away from Her." Review of Away from Her. Sight & Sound, May 2007.
- Pevere, Geoff. "Away from Her draws us close to
husband's anguish." Review of Away from Her. Toronto Star, September 11, 2006.
- Pupo, Mark. "Woman on the verge: On the eve of
her directorial debut, she's steeling herself for the spotlight--again." Toronto Life, October 2006.
- Reid, Michael. "Pinsent savours dream role." Interview with Gordon Pinsent. Edmonton Journal, May 8, 2007, Front section.
- Riding, Alan. "A role about winter for Julie Christie, a star in eternal spring." Interview with Julie Christie. New York Times, April 18, 2007, Late Edition (East Coast).
- Schneller, Johanna. "At 28, Sarah Polley starts over: On
Friday, the girl from Avonlea makes her debut as a director with the already
lauded Away From Her: 'I'm in a good place right now'." Interview with Sarah Polley. Globe and Mail, April 28, 2007.
- Schwarzbaum, Lisa. "Recall girl." Review of Away from Her. Entertainment Weekly, May 11, 2007.
- Scott, A.O. "Time's wounds, and the heart's." Review of Away from Her. New York Times, May 4, 2007, Late Edition (East Coast).
- Sealy, Shirley. "Away from Her." Review of Away from Her. Film Journal International, June 2007.
- Stone, Alan A. "A care in the world." Review of Away from Her. Boston Review, July-August 2007.
- Travers, Peter. "Away From Her." Review of Away from Her. Rolling Stone, May 3, 2007.
- Tremblay, Odile. "Entrevue avec Sarah Polley : une étonnante maturité." Interview with Sarah Polley. Le Devoir, May 12, 2007. [in French]
- Winters, Laura. "The fresh young filmmaker and
her scenes from a long marriage." Interview with Sarah Polley. Washington Post, May 6, 2007, Final edition, Sunday Arts section.
Web Sites about Away from Her