Metascore
88

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    With a tranquil fearlessness, it goes beyond the death of memory, to see what might be found in the unexplored country beyond. The answer is both frightening and comforting: More love. Unspecified love. Universal love.
  2. One of the most remarkable and moving love stories the movies have recently given us.
  3. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    80
    The pain of watching a spouse succumb to Alzheimer's is given a particularly deep and sensitive treatment in Away From Her.
  4. 100
    Anyone who could read Munro’s original story and think they could make a film of it, and then make a great film, deserves a certain awe.
  5. To say it is about a debilitating disease is as reductive as saying "Little Miss Sunshine" is about a beauty pageant. Both are intimate stories of family ties that bind but sometimes also choke.
  6. 88
    All the acting is first-rate -- Dukakis gives major dimensions to a supporting role. And Christie, a Sixties screen goddess in "Darling" and "Doctor Zhivago," shows that her spirit and grace are eternal. She's a beauty. So is the movie.
  7. 88
    As this intimate, beautifully observed film unfolds, you realize that the story's themes -- the nature of love, the role of sex in relationships and the ways in which we learn to make peace with our guilty consciences -- are relevant no matter what age you happen to be.
  8. Even those who've long noted Polley's intelligence on screen will be amazed by the perception she displays as a filmmaker.
  9. 88
    Julie Christie is simply astounding as a woman slipping into the ravages of Alzheimer's in Sarah Polley's deeply affecting and artfully crafted Away From Her.
  10. A heartbreaking elegy to mature love that honors the lovers and the long, neurodegenerative tango that is their last.
  11. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    88
    A sad and sometimes funny tale of Alzheimer's, love and loss.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    Does the finest job of any film in painting a believable portrait of aging, capturing the sadness, confusion, anxiety and defiance of the early stages of dementia.
  13. A film rich in paradoxes. Much of the film's style is dreamy, from the snow-covered Ontario landscapes suggestive of a blanket of forgetfulness, to Julie Christie's pale, intoxicating beauty, to the ambient musical score.
  14. A director needs to know how to pace the tale, where to place the camera, how to draw out a shy actor or get out of the way of a strong one. Those skills are rarer than you'd think. Sarah Polley, who never wrote or directed a feature film before Away From Her, has them all.
  15. 75
    A tender movie about a poignant and difficult subject.
  16. Reviewed by: Jeremy Mathews
    80
    Julie Christie gives a fabulous performance of mysterious, unclear depth as Fiona.
  17. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    60
    It's Sarah Polley through and through: slightly too glum for its own good, but reeking of quality and feeling.
  18. A phantom of a movie whose beautiful flakes fall into the deep crevices of memory long after the seasons change.
  19. There's nothing messy or unkempt about the beautifully, quietly heartbreaking story of unconditional love and emotional sacrifice.
  20. A quiet, heartfelt story of love and loss.
  21. Munro's stark lily needed none of this gilding.
  22. 75
    The actors are all perfect and yet not. Christie, most obviously, is simply too gorgeous, even when she's meant to be rattled and lost; Pinsent is too credibly stolid; Dukakis never vanquishes an impression of sourness. These may be quibbles, but they add up.
  23. 100
    Rarely has love at any age been depicted so honestly on screen. For such a fully realized portrait to be created by a 28-year-old first-time director is even more remarkable.
  24. Extraordinary--delicate, seriously disturbing, and lovely.
  25. 100
    For a movie about the importance of memory, Away From Her is appropriately sophisticated in its treatment of time. Polley has broken the chronological story into three sections of unequal length and woven them together, approximating our own mercurial journeys through the past.
  26. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    90
    It's a precociously assured and mature work, at once humble and bold, that keeps faith with Munro's precise, graceful prose while tailoring its linear progression into shapely cinematic form.
  27. Poignant, wise and unafraid -- just the sort of film for a young person, or any person, for that matter, to make.
  28. 90
    I can't remember the last time the movies yielded up a love story so painful, so tender and so true.
  29. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    For anyone who grew up worshiping at the shrine of Julie Christie, the notion that she could be playing a white-haired woman drifting into senility is a jolt to the system. But her radiance, beauty and talent are undiminished: she's hauntingly, heartbreakingly good.
  30. 90
    The movie, Polley's feature début, is a small-scale triumph that could herald a great career.
  31. 80
    Polley captures the brisk, cheerful fascism of nursing-home existence with merciless clarity; if you've visited a parent or grandparent in one of those places, you may want to laugh and cry in the same moment.
  32. Away From Her is a twilight-of-life love story, one that harshly demolishes our romantic notions of love and loyalty, then replaces them with something deeper and, finally, more consoling.
  33. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    80
    What Away From Her achieves is quite admirable-- a low-key, intelligent setting for performances marked by those same qualities.
  34. A feature film that's often astringent on the surface, yet deeply and memorably stirring.
  35. 83
    Has its heartbreaking moments and its surprise giggles, particularly thanks to Ron Hewat's minor role as a former hockey play-by-play announcer now narrating his nursing-home life.
  36. Given the subject, the movie is too romanticized, and Christie's eyes remain too sharp here to convincingly convey someone whose memory is fast slipping away. Much of it is powerful anyway.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 79 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 46
  2. Negative: 8 out of 46
  1. averyc
    Aug 8, 2009
    10
    This is a minor masterpiece. This isn't a film about illness. It's a film about love and a film about, what Proust always knew to be, the great tragedy of forgetting. What does the player king in 'Hamlet' say? "Memory is but the slave of passion?". It's about how people sometime trade love for the solace of similarity. It's about the fact that sometimes the most loving gesture one can make is to let the other go. Regardless of how much you can bench or how straight you drink your Maker's, if you've recently left a long, troubled relationship, you will cry and cry. Nobody knows how to say goodbye. Full Review »
  2. DianaM
    Jul 28, 2007
    4
    there are moments of transcendence here (the two most memorable being the aerial shot of christie in the snow field, and the use of neil young's "harvest moon"), but without any believable timetable, the whole thing turns supermaudlin, confusing, and frankly, tedious. i kept waiting and waiting for fiona to say it'd all been just a well-acted hoax, that her rapid memory loss was aimed either to make grant move on with his life, or to finally punish him for that buried-but-not-forgotten-and-thus-not-buried-deep-enough indiscretion he made with a college student in the 70s. and speaking of which....
    ????!!? those flashbacks are shady. at one point i actually thought the girl would rise from the past--or from the dead--a la "what lies beneath." i could name a number of other "huhs?", if asked. maybe there wasn't enough time to show fiona's brain slowly unhinge and let the flood wash away grant's love. but one month?? one month in which she learns new things, suffers no fears, no violent outbursts, but loses every morsel of her life before??!! i will admit christie is exquisite. i could stop wishing i'll be half so earthy when/if i get old. olympia dukakis is hilarious, as always, though i don't think she was trying to be. oh, but i do love watching her mask break. polley shouldn't have been so verbatim in her translation from the short story. she needed either to expound on grant's affair, or do away with it completely. faboo camera work, however. all four points for that.
    Full Review »
  3. AnnV.
    Dec 5, 2009
    2
    Not really about Alzheimer's. It is about a guilty husband. Slow, pretty boring. No truth about dementia in this show.