Title: An Analytical Examination of “Away from Her” (2007)
“Away from Her,” directed by Sarah Polley in 2007, is a thought-provoking film that explores the complexities of memory loss and its impact on relationships. Through the lens of Alzheimer’s disease, the movie delves into the emotional turmoil and ethical dilemmas faced by the central characters, Fiona and Grant. This analytical examination aims to delve into the themes, narrative structure, and character development portrayed in the film. By analyzing the cinematography, directing choices, and dialogue, this analysis will provide an in-depth understanding of the film’s artistic and narrative aspects.
Based on Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” “Away from Her” narrates the story of Fiona and Grant, an aging couple facing the challenges posed by Fiona’s Alzheimer’s disease. Upon noticing Fiona’s worsening memory loss, Grant reluctantly accepts Fiona’s decision to live in a care facility called Meadowlake. Initially, Meadowlake enforces a 30-day no-contact policy to allow Fiona time to settle into her new environment. However, when Grant returns to visit her, he discovers Fiona is forming a bond with another resident named Aubrey. As Fiona’s memory deteriorates further, she forgets Grant’s identity, while developing a romantic attachment to Aubrey.
The primary theme of “Away from Her” is memory loss and its profound impact on personal relationships. Through Fiona’s decline, the film examines the emotional toll of Alzheimer’s on both the sufferers and their loved ones, particularly Grant. Moreover, the film explores the theme of identity and the disintegration of individuality that occurs with the progression of the disease. Fiona’s gradual loss of recognition highlights the heart-wrenching struggles faced by those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Polley employs a non-linear narrative structure in “Away from Her” to emphasize the fragmented nature of memory. The film frequently jumps between past and present, blurring the boundaries of time and reality. This technique effectively immerses the audience into Fiona’s world, where memories become fluid and indistinguishable. By employing this structure, Polley invites viewers to question the perception of reality and empathize with Fiona’s disorienting experiences.
The characters in “Away from Her” are meticulously crafted to explore the complexities of Alzheimer’s and its effects on personal relationships. Fiona’s character embodies the deterioration of memory and identity, evoking sympathy from the audience. Through Fiona, Polley emphasizes the tragic loss of self that accompanies Alzheimer’s, emphasizing the need for compassion and understanding.
Grant, as the primary caregiver and spouse, undergoes a distinct character arc throughout the film. Initially resistant to Meadowlake, Grant struggles to accept his changing role in Fiona’s life. As the story progresses, Grant experiences guilt, grief, and a gradual acceptance of the evolving dynamics in their relationship. The portrayal of Grant’s emotional journey serves as a catalyst for the audience’s reflection on the complexities of caregiving and the sacrifices made in the face of progressive memory loss.
Visual and Aesthetic Choices:
Polley employs various visual and aesthetic choices to enhance the film’s thematic elements. The muted color palette underscores the somber mood and highlights the bleakness of Fiona’s situation. Additionally, the use of soft lighting and minimalist set design in the care facility creates an atmosphere of loneliness and isolation.
The director’s thoughtful use of close-ups allows the audience to intimately observe the subtle nuances of the characters’ emotions. Through these close-ups, Polley captures the vulnerability and tenderness of Grant and Fiona, shedding light on the complexities of their relationship amidst the challenges of Alzheimer’s.
“Away from Her” is a poignant exploration of Alzheimer’s and its profound impact on personal relationships. Through its themes, narrative structure, and character development, the film presents a nuanced portrayal of the emotional turmoil faced by individuals affected by memory loss. Furthermore, Polley’s visual and directorial choices effectively convey the fragility and disintegration of memory. By delving into these aspects, this analysis provides a comprehensive understanding of the film’s artistic and narrative merits.