Come Away With Me (2015) – By Philip Smolen


Ann Chambers (Ellen Gerstein) has just returned from her 50 year high school reunion. She had wanted to meet her high school sweetheart Michael Blake (Charlie Robinson) there in the hopes of rekindling their relationship. Michael didn’t attend the reunion, but Ann’s classmates tell her where to find him. It seems that he goes to the local park every afternoon. So Ann gathers her courage and approaches Michael the next day. To her shock she discovers that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and doesn’t remember who she is. Gently and patiently, she tries to get Michael to remember her by telling him about just how special their relationship was. But it seems that all the elderly Vietnam vet can talk about is a lot of minutia about the railroad industry.

“Come Away With Me” is a 16 minute film from movie and TV actress/writer and director Ellen Gerstein and it’s a breathtaking achievement in cinematic shorts. Beautifully acted and exquisitely photographed, the film is a haunting look at the regrets some people have after making their choices in life. Ann grew up in a world of privilege, while Michael traveled a much harder road. But even after 50 years, Ann never forgot Michael and now tries to have what she never could. But Gerstein the director is quick to point out that time is one of life’s bitter cruelties.

The film is based on the play “A Couple of Horses’ Assess” by David Field and Gerstein deftly translates it into cinematic gold. Gerstein also gives an amazing performance as Ann. She makes her a complete and complex woman who, despite her foibles, makes one final attempt at happiness. Veteran TV actor Charlie Robinson’s performance is wonderful to watch. You can actually see the recognition of past life events flash in front of him as Ann describes them to him. He captures the senior’s fear and confusion about his lost memory perfectly.

This is a magnificent and emotionally heartbreaking film that has justifiably won many awards at movie festivals. “Come Away With Me” tells a story of lost love with care, thoughtfulness and respect. It is a captivating, bittersweet and emotionally haunting film.

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