If you missed Julie Christie last year in “Away From Her,” you missed the most beautiful woman in film of 2007. This is a proclamation not made lightly. After all, this was a year that also saw movies by Jodie Foster and Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchett and Lena Headey. But Julie Christie, beside making me go misty, blew them all away with a beauty that is a tableau of life’s rich pageant. At 66, the 60s icon is still sexy yet refined, brash yet delicate. But now her hair is streaked with gray, her faced is lined with time. This is how a woman should age. Her body should bear witness to all that she has seen, not try to smooth it away like hiding rubbish under a rug.
It took me a long time to see “Away From Her,” despite the glowing reviews. And even when I did finally submit, it was somewhat begrudgingly. Go see a film about Alzheimer’s for fun? Geez, let’s find some puppies to kick while we’re at it. Still once I started watching, my pre-conceived gloominess slipped away and what was left was the brilliance of Christie and co-star Gordon Pinsent’s heartbreaking portrayal of a couple’s whose 40-years of love together is vanishing. With astounding assurance first-time director Sarah Polley (yes, that Sarah Polley), has shown the quiet brutality of Alzheimer’s. In Julie she has found an actress who can embody the poignancy of the disease while at the same time showing us the stakes for those who remain behind left with only their now solitary memories. I mean, just imagine having shared a life with Julie Christie only to have it vanish, little by little, into the mind’s cruel ether. It is a performance that is both beautiful and devastating, just like life. Happy weekend, all.
p.s. You didn’t think I’d let a post about Julie Christie pass without posting this little gem from “Better Than Chocolate,” did you? And, as if to reciprocate the lesbian adoration, Julie dropped this tantalizing nugget in an LA Weekly interview recently: “I hope Sarah (Polley) doesn’t mind me saying this, but I think you might say we developed a crush on each other.” Ahhhhh, indeed.