So I finally got around to seeing Away From Her, Sarah Polley's film adaptation of Alice Munro's story The Bear Came Over the Mountain, and I just wanted to give you the update.
The short of it is I think Sarah Polley, in her directorial debut, did a great job with the film. The morning after I watched Away From Her, I poured myself a cup of tea and re-read The Bear Came Over the Mountain, just to see how they compared. The slowly unfolding, quiet power of the story definitely exists in the movie. There are moments in the film where Polley uses Alice Munro's phrasing and descriptions (word for word) in her character's speech. Some of the storyline has been expanded and elaborated on for the film, but not too much, and not in a way that seems overbearing or contrived. For instance, the character of the nurse has been split into two characters for the film, which I think actually works quite well and allows us to both hate the system (the hospital administrator) and appreciate the care and concern of individuals (the nurse). Visually, the movie is stunning.
So all in all, I would definitely recommend Away From Her, but be warned: I started crying about 28 minutes in. This is a movie about a couple dealing with Alzheimer's, and it's heartbreaking. Still, somehow, it gives you a sense that even with all our flaws and small and large mistakes, and even with all the unexpected complications life throws our way, love really can endure and carry on, even if imperfectly.
Did you see it? What did you think?
Here are some links to interviews with Sarah Polley and Alice Munro, and reviews of Away From Her.