Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Away From Her


A woman has Alzheimer’s, is gradually losing it. She agrees with her husband that she needs to be in a nursing home, whose policy is that she get no visitors for 30 days. When he returns, she no longer remembers him, and has formed an attachment with a brain-damaged man.

Julie Christie is nominated for Best Actress for this, and it’s a wonderful performance, but I didn’t really care for the movie. It is ponderously slow. The husband’s voice was so low and soothing I almost drifted off to sleep several times. I found myself wishing for a little more passion, from anybody. Everyone here was so damn civilized in the face of this horror (and I fear the Big A much more than the Big C). They didn’t show the worst of it, either, which is not sitting around like a vegetable, drooling, but the terror some sufferers feel, the physical lashing out, the screaming. This all takes places in a home that looks like a ski lodge for old folks. I think I’d have been more involved if the people were more working-class, instead of so cerebral about everything.

And here’s a puzzle. I thought the Canadian health care system took care of you, cradle to grave. But the brain-damaged man’s wife takes him out of this place and keeps him at home or, she says, she’ll lose her house. What’s the deal here? I thought it was only in the US you had to bankrupt yourself before the state had to take care of you. Does the system only take care of you until you need a nursing home, then you pay yourself? Or was this a private facility? Were the state-run places too awful to put him in?