Away from Here (2014) Poster

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An excellent film
ScottNichols4 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is a story of forgiveness and redemption about two people who made a terrible, costly mistake six years earlier in their lives, when one was a young adult and the other a minor. The flashbacks reveal that both were at fault. That mistake and the subsequent lies told by the minor and her father (a Christian pastor, by the way) cost the young man six years of his life and ostracism in his home town after his return.

Contrary to the claim of another reviewer, the plot made no excuse for statutory rape. And that reviewer, while stating that the young man, a youth pastor at his church, began a sexual relationship with the 15- year-old daughter of the pastor, omitted the fact that she came on to him and that he tried to reject her advances precisely because she was under age. Yes, he kept her letters, but not because he didn't take his recovery seriously. He's a man with a heart, and he truly cared for her.

The punishment he received was unjust because the girl and her father (reminder, he's a Christian pastor) lied under oath at the trial. The girl admitted that when she sought him out after he returned to the town. I'll state that again--she sought him out, not vice versa. She wanted his forgiveness.

The film does not try to mitigate his crime. The film does not try in some convoluted way to blame the girls' father (again, a Christian pastor who lied under oath). The film does not contend that he's cured (I don't even know what the reviewer is referring to here). In no way did the film attempt to justify James' action. Contrary to the reviewer's claim, James did in fact try to present legal papers to his new employer, who rejected them.

Perhaps this is more of a review of that reviewer than the film, but that review irritated me. I thought it was very unfair, so I wanted to respond.

What made MY skin crawl was the hypocrisy of the Christian pastor. He was a real wacko. Still, I enjoyed Ray Wise's performance, as I always do--from the Devil in Reaper to a devilish pastor in Away From Here.

Nick Stahl and Alicia Witt were outstanding. I highly recommend the film.
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Almost Breaks through the glass ceiling
theseventhstooge5 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Like so many of the films I watch these days, I came across this gem on my Amazon Fire TV. Let me say from the outset that this film is excellent. It challenges us to accept the most difficult of questions, can someone convicted of sexually assaulting a minor be redeemable as a person. The average American would most assuredly answer in the negative, as would most convicted men and women in prison who often treat these people as the lowest of the low. It also attacks, though indirectly, a second question: can children lie? This, of course, is question that is often left unanswered due to the problems it would create.

That being said, this movie does a great job of showcasing life after prison for a convicted sex offender. The characters are well thought out, their reactions are stereotypical to the reactions most of us would have. The quality of acting is superb and each actor brings their character to life in a very real way. But as is the case with most films covering a controversial topic in American film, the editors often choose a quick, no mess ending rather than playing the film out in its most realistic format. Why not spend more time attacking our perceptions of sex offenders? Instead of having that moment where offender and victim finally come together, why is it that only the victim accepts that she wasn't a victim, but a willing participant? Why does the offender not further attack the position that the victim and her dad lied about what was happening? More importantly, the relationship the offender has with a coworker feels forced, inorganic. They quickly fall in love, she finds out he is a sex offender and has the stereotypical response but in the end she comes to his rescue and the flee the city together. I would rather watch a 2 to 2 1/2 hour film that attempts to answer these questions, as I would imagine the original script did, rather than the editor's version that strives for the typical American film happy ending. For the first half of the movie, I give it a 10, but for the second half I give it a 3 and I believe the strength of the first half, the characters and the acting it the whole film deserves an 8.
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Good push
alle-64-55470226 July 2014
The idea and the intend is good; the process of the film is not so convincing. The storyline is consistent but you have the feeling the director was trying too hard. Good as wake-up call, but a bit weak as movie. At least the main character is strong, by the way.

The film's message is very good on the other hand: the devilish mechanism of the society and the law is painted good, the bigot position of the preacher should get everyone thinking. And the case is chosen well: not everything is black and white, there is much grey between. A society getting adult should come to accept that and grow there.
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Well made in some ways, but also very disturbing and awful.
MartinHafer9 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I am in a bit of a quandary with "Away From Here". When it comes to the technical merits of the film, it is well acted and very well made. But, on the other hand, I felt a bit angry as well as disturbed by what appears to be a plot that excuses sex offenses—at least one particular kind. Why would anyone want to make a film like this? And, who is the intended audience?!

James (Nick Stahl) has just gotten out of prison. Slowly through the course of the film you learn why. When James was a youth minister at his church, he began a sexual relationship with a 15 year-old girl—and the girl ended up being the head preacher's daughter! However, James tells no one about this once he's released—including his boss and his new girlfriend. At the same time, he has kept the love letters the 15 wrote him six years ago—all of which go to show you that he isn't taking his recovery very seriously. However, the film clearly seems to indicate that the punishment he received for his behaviors was, at least in part, unjust. What's going to happen when this old sexual conquest (she's now married and 21) comes to see him? And, what is going to happen when his new girlfriend finds out he's a registered sex offender?

As I said above, I just don't understand the point of this film. Is it trying to mitigate James' crime? Is the film trying to get you to like him? Is the film, in some convoluted way, trying to blame the girl's father for the sexual relationship? All the answers appeared to be yes to me—and that is what I found so irritating about the movie. To give you some background about myself, I used to be a trained psychotherapist who worked with, among others, quite a few convicted sex offenders as well as victims. The film's contention that it was a one-time occurrence, that he's cured and that you can somehow justify James' actions all concerned the crap out of me as I sat and watched. What part of 'he was an adult in a position of authority and she was a 15 year-old' am I missing?! And, had James been honest to his employer and girlfriend and tried to learn from his past, I really would have enjoyed the film—it could have been about growth and redemption. But given his secretive behavior and the now 21 year-old telling James it was all HER fault…I just can't recommend this film to anyone. It was well made but also promotes some very unsavory messages and addresses the problem in many of the worst ways. And, as a father of two daughters, the film made my skin crawl. Avoid this one.
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Victim and Accused
nicnik627 January 2019
All the time I was watching this film, the acclaimed 2012 "The Hunt" came to mind. Same theme, same feeling: that the victim is actually the accused. What is different is that there the character was perfectly honest and open about the whole happening, while here he must keep it a secret, be it through his own will or through the force of the very first events the movie presents.

I came across this title because I like Alicia Witt, and was very surprised to discover Nick Stahl whom I had previously seen, I think, only in Terminator 3. He is an incredibly talented actor, very believable in this role; despite his rather reserved character here, one of the most powerful scenes in the movie is when he confronts Ray Wise's character in which he probably recognizes his wrongdoer. Albeit the film is (also) about forgiveness.

Without giving anything away, I would just like to mention that you will find the explanation of the title in the end of the film, which I recommend to any movie lover as a strong piece of courage and soul beauty.
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Brave to the point of being a bit too far ahead of its time
josiahkwhite16 August 2016
Politically, it's definitely controversial. That's perhaps the film's strongest point: that it'll get you thinking and talking about some important issues. It's not a bad little film at all.

It is a "little" film. It has some of the same themes as a true classic like American Beauty. It's no classic, though. On the other hand, it's not easily forgettable, like most little films are.

To avoid spoiling the movie, I'll try to create a good analogy. Imagine a father who gets "raped" in divorce court, losing custody of his children, even though he's a much better parent than his ex is. What if this father then kidnaps his kids, spirits them away to another state, and his kids get their pictures on "have you seen me?" milk cartons.

Then imagine that the father gets arrested and charged with kidnapping. Yet the movie goes out of its way to paint him as the good guy, the innocent victim. That kind of movie would certainly anger a lot of people, wouldn't it? Hillary supporters would sure hate it.

This movie isn't about divorce and custody rights. Instead, it's about an even more controversial theme, to the point where it's likely to anger Trump supporters as well. (The movie doesn't make conservative Christians look good at all.)

So consider yourself warned. I like controversial movies like this, especially those which are a little ahead of their time.
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Recommend Despite Inaccuracies
attersee1130 March 2019
We are shown via a sign that the denomination of Jessica's father's church is Church of Christ. Yet in the dinner scene where Jessica, her parents, and James hold hands and the dad (pastor) says grace, it is the standard, word-for-word grace used by Roman Catholics, who don't deviate from it or tack things on at the end. This prayer in this setting would never, ever happen, and was a major distraction for me. A conservative Christian pastor would have said a prayer he made up on the spot, ALWAYS finishing up with "in Jesus' name, Amen" or "in Jesus' name we pray, Amen." This is a frequent error in movies and TV, and is really off-putting to me (an educated atheist) because it shouts 'poor research!' My other reality check is regarding Lily's lifestyle. She lives in a fairly nice townhouse, maintains a car, hangs at bar where she pays for alcohol, AND indicates she foots the bill for another Big Ticket Item in her personal life - all on diner tips? And we were shown Lily grumbling when she made $30 in tips over the course of an entire shift. Those kind of wages would leave you homeless. Also inaccurate: any wait staff who would spend their precious break time STANDING! Between the ages of 15-22, I had 9 waitressing jobs and literally never witnessed it. Again, lazy research. Still: aside from these nitpicky items, the actors are perfectly cast and I definitely enjoyed and would recommend "Away from Here."
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