Saturday, December 15, 2007

Away We Go

The mark of a good movie is transcending it's subject matter, making it fresh, human, compelling, and if there's pain in it, give you its context and its truth, rather than clubbing you with it.

Sarah Polley's "Away From Her" is a triumph of subtlety, insight, and brilliant acting and direction. Justifiably among the year's five best-reviewed movies,

"Away" traces the path, through flashbacks and in real time, of an elderly couple facing the wife's progressing Alzheimer's disease.
As the wife slips away, the husband deals with losing his soulmate.

Julie Christie plays the wife indelibly, alternately lucid and opaque, entering a care facility, and, her memories gone, forming an attachment to another male patient. Gordon Pinsent is awesome as the husband, and Olympia Dukakis is unusually dark as the wife of the 'other man.'

Behold, the 5 parameters of criticism.

1. Four Words That Encapsule: "Here Today, Where Tomorrow?"

2. Haiku (5/7/5):
"It's hard to let go
of a bond deep in the soul,
warmth, light, then just gray"

3. Oblique Comment: Alzheimer's inpatients frequently forget their spouse and form attachments to other inpatients. This just happened to Sandra Day O'Connor's husband, which O'Connor was very gracious about, wishing him well in oblivion. Another VERY good movie on this topic is from Argentina, "El Hijo de la Novia", or "Son of the Bride."

4. Insight: Julie Christie, now 66, shows here that she was always even more of an actress than a beauty - and she was and still is very beautiful. At 66, it's a different kind of beauty, but no less luminous. She really conveys a extensive palette of overlapping emotions: wistfulness, befuddlement, sadness, intimacy, loneliness, confusion, and each facet shines like a bright crystal, a shimmering jewel. Give this woman her second Oscar, please! (her first was in 1965, for the then-risqué "Darling.")

5. Metacritic Link.

Watch the trailer:

Cartoons du Jour:

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