Away From Her, 12A

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The Independent Culture

Away From Her, which had a brief release less than a year ago but has returned to cinemas now that Julie Christie has been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, and Sarah Polley, the writer-director, has been nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Christie stars alongside Gordon Pinsent as an academic and his wife who live in chic retirement in a snowy Canadian cottage until Christie puts the frying pan in the freezer and forgets the word "wine", and they realise that she has Alzheimer's. On Christie's insistence, she moves into a care home, leaving her rudderless husband to question whether his wife of several decades is really as ill as she seems, or whether she's quietly asserting her independence and getting her revenge on him for past misdeeds. His doubts deepen when Christie attaches herself to another man in the care home.

Based on an Alice Munro short story, it's a delicate, poignant tale, remarkable for a first-time writer-director still in her twenties, and with a luminous, tantalisingly mysterious Christie glowing at its centre. It's just a shame that we're away from her for half the film.

When she's absent, the plotting loses its way just as much as her husband does, and Pinsent is nowhere near as magnetic. If only Polley had cast Jack Nicholson instead ....

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