Just Push Play: DVD Review of ’Away From Her’

Jorge’s take: 2 Stars

It’s always a challenge for me to watch a movie about a person who disintegrates from an illness and to see the pain it brings on the family. It’s not what most would call entertainment. In “Away From Her,” Julie Christie plays a wife whose failing memory complicates an otherwise stable marriage.

The irony of this illness is that it adversely affects the family more than the patient. Christie has to figure out who’s who, but the husband of more than 40 years (played by Gordon Pinsent), has to bear the pain of reintroducing himself. A better actress couldn’t have been casted for the role. As a beautiful elderly and talented woman, Christie was a treat to watch. But Pinsent carried the burden of the storyline; his was, in my opinion, the tougher role and Pinsent underplayed the emotional struggle. I can’t imagine the director being pleased with Pinsent holding back as he did in this role.

The title of the movie sets itself up for failure. It forces the viewer to focus on Pinsent losing his life-long companion, yet doesn’t convince me of his grief. “Away From Her” could have been a better movie. It started off strong and slowly slipped into something of a cheap smoke break conversation. By then, it didn’t matter whether Christie would ever remember her husband or not, Pinsent the victim, had faded in my memory.

Mike’s take: 2 Stars

Julie Christie truly shines in the so-so melancholy drama, “On Her Own.” For those who are unfamiliar with her work, Christie was like the Audrey Hepburn of British cinema, fresh-faced and brilliant in a string of quirky comedies throughout the 60s. Better than Meg Ryan in the 90s, Christie was also great in dramatic turns, like “Doctor Zhivago.”

Though much older now, that same joyous spirit still radiates, and is the saving grace of this mediocre tale. Christie plays a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s, as she and her husband deals with separation issues when she voluntarily moves into a nursing home.

Eventually, she loses all memory of her husband and develops a romance with another nursing home resident. Very slow-moving and made-for-cable drama, “Away From Her” might play well on the Hallmark or Lifetime channels, but for Spike TV or FX fans, this will not suffice.