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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Bar Came Over the Mountain

Away from Her (2006) on IMDb

Plot Overview

This quintessential Canadian film might be the equivalent, had it been made in the USA, of what we'd call, ‘as American as apple pie’ … only in this case as Canadian as —. Fact is they had a contest up in Canada to come up with an equivalent ‘as Canadian as …’ slogan; the winner was: ‘as Canadian as possible under the circumstances.’

Aging Ontario resident Fiona Anderson (Julie Christie) is beginning to lose her memory to the point where she's on her way to being insti­tutional­ized. Where we Americans might say, ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’, her husband Grant Anderson (Gordon Pinsent) moves the pan from the fridge where she'd put it to the cabinet where it belongs.

At dinner with another couple, Fiona can't remember what the fruit of the vine is called—i.e. wine—causing her husband concern, but there's nothing to be done about it. Just as we might think there's no use crying over spilt milk, medically speaking there's no point lamenting memory loss that will never come back.

The plot once she enters Meadowlake long term care facility is like a repurposed song, “Rock”:

When you wake up in the morning and you wonder
Why no one's beside you where I usually lay
And you think you hear the sound like distance thunder,
That's just your old rock rollin' away

I was your rock standing strong for you.
There was nothing I wouldn't do;
No matter the cost I was ready to pay.
Now you say I'm only holding you down
Like some old rock you've been dragging around.
Yes I'm your rock but I'm rollin' away.

I'm rollin' away on a downhill grade.
I'm gonna come to rest side a mountain of love some day.
'Cause I finally understand if you're resting on shifting sands.
Even a rock goes rollin' away.

I was your rock standing strong for you...
Yes I'm your rock but I'm rollin' away.

He can't stand to be away from her, but realizing she's becoming a burden that he's unable to bear, she insists on checking into the home where she'll find substitute love.


Her separation from her husband, going into the care facility, provides an uncanny artistic illustration of Saint Paul's reasoning for separating Christian worship from other religions, i.e. (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...”

(2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” Fiona was a “lady”; Grant, we learn, was a “charmer.” The latter could not conceive how Fiona's friend­ship with her new buddy, fellow patient Aubrey (Michael Murphy), would not “go too far.” And yet Fiona in her distress just wanted an uncomplicated friend­ship albeit a close one. The not always righteous Grant had trouble with Fiona's POV derived from her mystic Icelandic roots. The hall­way, as oft pointed out, was well lit with natural light. There were no shadows in it. Fiona's cross-country skiing got her lost at night­fall when there was no light to guide her. There was no communion of light and darkness.

(2Cor. 6:15) “And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” There was no concord between the home's Christmas season and the staff's convenience, so admissions—with their attendant adjustment period—were scrapped for December. Webster defines “infidel: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity.” A union of a believer and an unbeliever was a stated concern of the Corinthians, which Paul addressed in his previous epistle, 1Cor. 7:12-16, so there were doubtless examples they could observe of infidels who were not worshipping with their spouses, ergo the church was not to include other religions in with their worship; it wouldn't work, though presum­ably such marriages worked in other parts of them. In the artistic parallel of this movie, Grant did not want Fiona to stay in the home but didn't oppose her decision, but Aubrey's wife Marian (Olympia Dukakis) out­right opposed her husband's stay there—it was just temporary for financial and medical reasons.

(2Cor. 6:16) “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” The university where Grant used to teach was a temple of learning. It did not agree well with coeds idolizing their teachers who were so susceptible to temptation.

When Fiona at age 18 proposed to Grant, “She hadn't planned it,” and Grant, like­wise, impulsively accepted it (“I shouted YES.”) In a poetic sense it was likened to a hound dog (“hund”) sniffing (“Smell me”) bitches in heat (“The heat attracts”), unmoved by some (“e.g. the lime burner's daughter”) but sold on the right one (i.e. “the cinnamon peeler's daughter.”) The selection of a mate in their case was accomplished on a visceral level, and the movie parallel about entering a care facility later in life was not directly related to mate selection at all. Often the verse, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” is used as a proof text—especially after a modern version removes the plural pronoun ‘ye’ used in the KJV applied to corporate worship—to tell a single Christian not to marry an unbeliever, when the passage penned by Paul makes perfect sense with­out addressing whom or even if one is to marry. Adding that element goes against Occam's razor by multiplying variables needlessly. The simplest interpretation is likely the correct one, here artistically imposed on separate housing in a care facility, or in the biblical case corporate worship.

Production Values

This film, “Away From Her” (2006) was directed by Canadian Sarah Polley who also wrote its screen­play adapted from a short story by Canadian authoress Alice Munro, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.” Her story appeared in December, 1999 New Yorker. The movie stars Gordon Pinsent, Julie Christie, Olympia Dukakis, Wendy Crewson, and Michael Murphy. It boasts a terrific performance by Gordon Pinsent, and Christie is very good in her role, as well, but hers was simpler. The whole cast did well, especially Kristen Thomson as an upbeat nurse Kristy.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for some strong language. Cinema­tog­rapher Luc Mont­pellier captured the cold Canadian winter as well as the stressed faces of its people. Composer Jonathan Gold­smith borrowed some­what from Bach for his musical score. The actors did their best to rescue a bookish script. From time to time back­ground was inserted in medias res to keep us on our toes, or perhaps to help us empathize with a mind grappling with selective memory.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This was a nice movie. Even the recalled epoch of college in the 60s had its specifics tempered by time. The ending allows for multiple interpretations.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Predictable. Overall product rating: three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture taken from the Authorized Version. Pub. 1611, rev., 1769. Software.

Russell Smith, Jim Varsos, “Rock.” © Universal Music, ASCAP / WB Music, ASCAP. WEB

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: MERRIAM-WEBSTER. 1984. Print.