Away From Her

Director: Sarah Polley
Year Released: 2006
Rating: 1.5

A retired professor (Gordon Pinsent) can no longer cope with his wife's senility (she's played by Julie Christie, sufficiently baffled and disheveled) and has to institutionalize her, but he can't deal with the separation. Alzheimer's is a genuine problem and the situation is very real (and timely) but the treatment of it is shamelessly maudlin - as Christie erodes, the man appears more and more grief-stricken (and willingly so - he punishes himself for past infidelities and makes things worse by living in denial). I'm curious about the accuracy of the hospital setting: having visited an Alzheimer's ward here in the States, I can attest to the horrid treatment of the patients and less-than-sanitary conditions (the nurses were very neglectful), but this Canadian hospital is populated with a staff so loving and concerned they appear ready for canonization (or, maybe Michael Moore is right and things are more lovely Up North). Sarah Polley may have a future as a filmmaker but her touch will have to get lighter and less repetitive as she goes on - in all, this comes across more like an advertisement for a cause than a full-fledged motion picture.