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Film Reviews – Ageing, Older People and Family/Friendly Care in Film
By Graciela Gonzalez, 86 year old retired dental surgeon and emerging film critic

This issue’s selections are ‘Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont’ and ‘Away from Her’. The first film addresses themes such as loneliness, friendship and intergenerational relationships, and the second is a protrayal of a woman with early stage Alzheimer’s disease and her relationship with her husband and environment. Both are sad films, but nevertheless give another perspective on older age.

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

Country: United Kingdon
Cast: Joan Plowright, Rupert Friend, Zoe Tapper
Director: Dan Irelan
Language: English
Genres: Drama/comedy
Running Time: 108 minutes

After losing her husband, Mrs. Palfrey checks into the Claremont Hotel – not a very charming hotel in central London. Mrs. Palfrey is one of several older people residing at the hotel where their basic daily needs are met. Each day at mealtime the residents briefly interact, often talking about their families, but visitors are noticeably absent.
One day while walking Mrs. Palfrey trips and a young writer assists her. From then on a friendship develops and the film turns into another story.

Away From Her

Country: Canada
Cast: Julie Christie, Michael Murphy, Gordon Pinset, Olympia Duka
Director: Sarah Polley

Language: English
Genres: Drama
Running Time: 110 minutes

The Anderson’s have had an apparently happy marriage for some 40 years living in small town Ontario. Fiona, played by Julie Christie, is diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. While still able to make decisions, Fiona and her husband decide that she will move into a long term care facility. Fiona says, “I think all we can aspire to in this situation is a little bit of grace”. After a period of 30 days (visitors are not permitted while the ‘patient’ adjusts to the new surroundings), Grant goes to visit his wife, and much to his surprise, Fiona does not recognise him and she has started sharing affections with another resident. The film is really about the marital relationship more than the disease, however, it does show how each partner deals with their loss and struggle to find happiness. This is a moving film with good performances by Julie Christie and Gordon Pinset.

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