It’s a weak moment in a film that otherwise is brave in its depiction of struggling spouses who fight suspicion and isolation, but who have no extended community to fall back on after Alzheimer’s afflicts their life partners. Instead, they seek refuge in poetry and verse that tells them to “dance while you can,” or in advice that we “sometimes [must] make the decision to be happy,” because “things aren’t ever what you hope they’d be.” Such phrases miss the larger truths about grace and redemption hinted at by Fiona earlier in the film.

Such caveats are not easy to dismiss. But Away from Her, despite some disappointing choices by its characters, is a treasure—a film that shows mature individuals grappling with the twilight of lifelong relationships built on mutual understanding, trust and forgiveness. It’s a complex, lived-in drama about fractured lives.

“I think people are too demanding,” Fiona says to Grant earlier in the film. “People want to be in love every single day.” It’s a recognition that their relationship has had its ups and downs, but that neither person ever walked out on the other. Soon Fiona will have to leave Grant, but in that precious instant, she says, “I’m going, but I’m not gone yet,” as Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” plays on the soundtrack:

But now it's gettin' late
And the moon is climbin' high
I want to celebrate
See it shinin' in your eye.

Because I'm still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I'm still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

“I never wanted to be away from her,” Grant remembers about Fiona. “She had the spark of life.” The wonder of this movie is how Christie’s performance makes us feel what Grant feels. Whenever she’s on-screen, we can’t look Away from Her.

AUDIENCE: Older teens and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: Several profanities.
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Some of both; a smoker says he “quit quitting.”
  • Sex/Nudity: Married couple is shown in bed twice after having had sex; an unmarried couple is shown in bed right after having had sex; discussion about lovemaking; no nudity.
  • Violence: None.