Last night, I saw the movie AWAY FROM HER starring Julie Christie (Fiona) and Gordon Pinsent (Grant). Fiona, a bright and active woman, develops Alzheimer’s disease, and the story explores what happens to her relationship with her husband and what remains of the love in their 44-year marriage as her shared memories of their life together disappear. The movie is respectful to many of the realities of living with Alzheimer’s and doesn’t commit Fiona instantly to vacant oblivion. Christie delivers a powerfully authentic performance, revealing layers of awareness colored by confusion, embarrassment, panic, humor, and resilience through an ever-thickening fog of dementia. And Pinset’s portrayal of her husband’s denial and then heartbroken devotion are believable and moving as well.
I fully recommend the film, but I do think it simplified a lot. For example, although we see what Alzheimer’s does to Fiona and Grant, their story contains no children, no siblings, no friends or colleagues, no grandchildren. In my family and in others I know, the impact and loss from Alzheimer’s are felt not just by the person with dementia and his or her caregiver. It ripples through the family, through friends of family, through the community they live in. And it affects everyone differently.
What did you think of the movie?
How has Alzheimer’s affected you?
Lisa Genova, author of STILL ALICE, www.StillAlice.com