Starring: Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent
Video: Anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color
Audio: English DD 5.1, 2.0
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Deleted scenes with commentary, Commentary track by Julie Christie
Length: 110 minutes
A very hard-hitting and realistic portrayal of the affliction of Alzheimer’s disease, and an acting triumph for Julie Christie. Shot in Ontario, Canada, the story concerns Fiona and Grant, two seniors who have been married over 40 years. They must deal with the reality that Fiona isn’t just “forgetful,” but actually has the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. She wanders away and becomes lost and she quickly (seemingly almost too quickly) agrees that a nursing home is the rational next step. (One of the deleted scenes seemed to me central to grasping her situation – it showed her standing on the center line of the main street in their small town and blocking a truck.)
Grant has a very hard time with the “no visitors for first 30 days” policy of the nursing home, but when he returns is shocked to find that she both has forgotten him and is being very affectionate to another man who is wheelchair bound. He wonders if her actions could be a type of revenge for affairs he had with some of his female students as a professor. When the man is returned to his home by his wife, Fiona is devastated and gets even worse. In the end Grant is able to restore Fiona’s happiness by personally bringing the other man back into the facility.
The film is very well done, with the deliberate and realistic pacing of European films. It is so true to life that it could be depressing to many viewers, but the subject of Alzheimer’s vitally needs to be presented to the general public, and consciousness raised toward financing a possible treatment for it.
– John Sunier