January 12, 2008 -- This is a very slow moving, but intricately-constructed film about a woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It is also about her husband's frustration in trying to deal with the changes the disease causes in her personality.
Julie Christie of "Finding Neverland" stars as Fiona Anderson, a woman losing her memories. Her husband, Grant (Gordon Pinsent of "The Good Shepherd") doesn't want to put her in a nursing home, but Fiona insists. The nursing home has a rule that Grant can't visit his wife for the first 30 days of her stay, so she can “settle in.” When Grant finally gets to visit his wife, she seems not to know him. Instead, she has become devoted to another man, a fellow resident in the nursing home, Aubrey (Michael Murphy of "X-Men: The Last Stand") who is the husband of Marian (Olympia Dukakis of "Mr. Holland's Opus"). Grant becomes increasingly frustrated by his exclusion from the world created by Fiona and Aubrey in the nursing home. Things look better when Marian removes Aubrey from the nursing home for financial reasons. Marian is afraid she'll lose her home due to the cost of care (the story takes place in Canada, so apparently, the Canadian health care system isn't perfect, either).
Much to Grant's dismay Fiona goes into a funk when Aubrey is removed from the nursing home. She gets worse instead of better, and she still won't talk to him. Desperate, Grant goes to see Marian to see if she'll let Aubrey visit Fiona. Things get complicated when the practical Marian expresses a romantic interest in Grant, while refusing to let Aubrey visit Fiona. The look on Marian's face when she decides to pursue Grant is priceless. The complexity of emotions involved in this story increases even more when it is also revealed that Grant had affairs with other women earlier in his life and that Fiona may be revisiting those painful memories because of her disease.
This guilt on the part of Grant may explain why he has become such a devoted husband, visiting his wife every day in the nursing home, far more than other spouses. The multiple issues raised in the film are never fully resolved. Everyone tries to go on with their lives as best they can. That is all anyone can do, unless one opts for suicide. The acting is excellent by all the main characters, especially by Gordon Pinsent, who carries the bulk of the film. This is a breakthrough film for director Sarah Polley. The once fabulously beautiful Julie Christie still looks good as a senior, and is racking up acting awards for her performance in this film. This film rates a B.
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