Away from Her (Sarah Polley, 2007)

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chaddoli
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#1 Post by chaddoli » Sun May 06, 2007 11:00 pm

I just wanted to reccomend this beautiful film to everyone. A mature and insightful debut by Sarah Polley. And, not suprisingly, an incredible performance by Julie Christie.

links of interest:

Trailer

Slant review

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Antoine Doinel
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#2 Post by Antoine Doinel » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:15 pm

I saw this tonight and was absolutely overwhelmed. Polley's feature length directorial debut displays a maturity that escapes even the most seasoned directors. Based on a short story by Alice Munro, Polley's script, and particularly the characters, are the most well rounded I've seen on screen in a long time. The film, about a couple dealing with the onset of Alzheimers in one of the partners, never goes for Big Emotional Scenes. Instead, the film builds slowly and thoughtfully, while retaining its emotional complexity. When the film ended, all you could hear in the theater were sniffles, silence and everyone stayed glued to their seat.

This is the best film I've seen so far this year.

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Svevan
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#3 Post by Svevan » Thu Jun 21, 2007 7:59 pm

I thought the structure of the film was excellent: Gordon Pinsent's character's memory is emphasized throughout the first half, and we're challenged by the nurse's dialogue to consider how accurate his memory really is. He can remember (via grainy flashback) his wife's beauty, but he can't seem to remember his infidelity. Julie Christie's innocence, and her eventual relapse into memory, is quietly and sweetly portrayed, but the movie is not about her loss of memory but Gordon Pinsent's loss of her. He is left only with memories of her, and to truly love her he has to sacrifice himself and give her Michael Murphy.

I love the image of the tracks in the snow. And it has the single best "fuck you" in a movie.

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Barmy
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#4 Post by Barmy » Fri Jun 22, 2007 1:25 pm

Good flick, except that trite 360 degree pan at the end (a camera move that should be banned) and that appalling anti-Bush bit, which destroyed the film's timeless quality.

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tavernier
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#5 Post by tavernier » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:06 pm

Barmy wrote:Good flick, except that trite 360 degree pan at the end (a camera move that should be banned) and that appalling anti-Bush bit, which destroyed the film's timeless quality.
That anti-Bush bit was the only original thing in the movie, aside from Christie's luminous acting...dreadful, sentimental, overrated stuff. The audience I saw it with in Brooklyn was scratching their heads afterwards over the raves for this melodramatic pap.

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Barmy
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#6 Post by Barmy » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:14 pm

My audience didn't like it either--lots of chattering (which added kind of a 3-D nature to the sound design). Yes, the acting/storyline was manipulative and SUBTLE. I just went with it like a faux-Bergmanic roller coaster.

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tavernier
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#7 Post by tavernier » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:20 pm

Barmy wrote:Yes, the acting/storyline was manipulative and SUBTLE.
Manipulative, yes; subtle? NO WAY.

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Svevan
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#8 Post by Svevan » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:39 pm

The "anti-Bush bit" was a character detail, not a critique. The moment showed that Christie was still a thinker and had opinions (she was able to connect her past, Vietnam, to the present, Iraq). Plus we see that moment through Gordon Pinsent's eyes, since his reaction is more important than Christie's statement.

But it seems you guys weren't too into the film - that little snippet wouldn't save or damn it if the rest was a failure.

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colinr0380
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#9 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Jul 12, 2007 3:08 pm

Barmy wrote:Good flick, except that trite 360 degree pan at the end (a camera move that should be banned)
That sound interesting - is it used in a similar way to the 360 degree, slowly rising shot over the final scene and end credits of Atom Egoyan's Felicia's Journey?

An episode of The Treatment interviewing Sarah Polley.

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John Cope
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#10 Post by John Cope » Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:43 pm

Finally, someone gives Pinsent his due.

I'll take this opportunity as well to inquire of Antoine or tavernier or anyone else who found Christie's performance to be exceptional to please give me some reason as to why you felt this way. I'm not trying to be snarky here, I have simply been confounded by the praise and presumed Oscar talk it's been generating. Far as I'm concerned if the movie works at all (and I certainly believe it does) it is primarily due to Pinsent. Isn't it his response to this whole situation which gives it any weight or meaning for us? Of course Christie is perfectly fine but as far as I can remember there was never even a sense of real loss conveyed by her. She is presented to us as reasonable at the start as the symptoms of her ailment become impossible to ignore. She takes an active role in deciding what has to be done for her future. There is very little overt distress that affects her resigned stoicism. For three quarters of the running time she simply plays a variation on spacy and mildly bemused; the fact that she ultimately seems to be humoring Pinsent for the duration compounds the tragedy and sadness of it all but I don't see how or why that's the product of a great performance per se.

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tavernier
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#11 Post by tavernier » Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:54 pm

I take it back...Pinsent was as good as Christie...but I still didn't like the film.

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Antoine Doinel
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#12 Post by Antoine Doinel » Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:42 pm

I too have seem somewhat baffled that Julie Christie has been singled out for praise. It seems like the usual praise that critics like to give older actors or actresses when they are in a "brave" film. I think the cast was uniformly excellent and that Olympia Dukasis at the very least, deserves as much notice as Julie Christie.

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#13 Post by David Ehrenstein » Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:22 pm

Julie Christie became my favorite actress of all-time in 1963 when I saw Billy Liar. Two years later Darling cemented that impression.

Away From Her is the latest [panel in a career that includes Dr. Zhivago, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Shampoo, Don't Look Now, Memoirs of a Survivor and The Gold Diggers.

My favorite Juliesim used to be "He's a terrible sweetie" (from Darling). That's to Away From Her it has now been replaced by "You are persistent aren't you?"

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domino harvey
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#14 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:39 am

Saw this tonite. Well.... it's not a bad film but it's nothing special either, and that includes Christie's competent but by no means extraordinary performance. Did all these critics actually see the film? She's so pedestrian.

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#15 Post by portnoy » Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:31 am

domino harvey wrote:Did all these critics actually see the film? She's so pedestrian.
lol

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#16 Post by noelbotevera » Fri Feb 01, 2008 2:24 am

Seen the film? I wonder. Key to Christie's performance is the possibility that either she's really suffering Alzheimer's or she's been leading him on all along, possibly one or the other at various points of the film. She gives clues to either one or the either at various points, sometimes both at the same time. That finale--it's horrific and funny, either way.

And I'd like to see another young un, male or female, tackle a movie like this. That Coppola chick, for one--now there's overrated.

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