November 17th, 2007
-Directed by Canadian actress Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter, My Life Without Me).
-Starring Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie.
-Based on the short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain, by Alice Munro.
Although Polley was only 28 when she made this film, it’s about people in their sixties dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. The acting is fantastic, and the direction is deft and tightly controlled. I recommend it highly.
The only quibble I have is that it’s too faithful to the source. In some cases the author’s words are put into the mouths of characters, where they sound too literary. For example, Munro writes “She looked just like herself on this day—direct and vague as in fact she was, sweet and ironic.” But Polley has Grant say it out loud to Fiona, where it clangs like a broken bell. (Try it. Next time somebody asks you how they look, tell them “Direct and vague, sweet and ironic.”)
But I like it anyway. Julie Christie at 67 is still one of the most beautiful women on earth, and she’s a fine, iconic actor too. Pinsent is less celebrated, but Canadians know him and love him. He does a good job of holding his own with Christie.
The original short story first appeared in The New Yorker magazine. You can read it in its entirety at their web site:
The Bear Came Over the Mountain