Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth
Release date: October 13th, 2014 (US)
Directed by: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics
Dr. Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) has a successful career, loving husband (Alec Baldwin), and three grown children (Kate Bosworth, Kristen Stewart and Hunter Parrish). She is a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University. When she is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, her entire world comes crashing down. As she faces losing her memories and identity, her family must overcome their differences to be there for her.
Moore’s acting is superb (she did win the 2014 Oscar for Best Actress, after all). As the film chronicles her deterioration and struggle to complete even the most basic activities of daily living, Moore’s Alice remains brave and sympathetic to the end. Though the film mostly focuses on Alice’s perspective and largely neglects the rest of her family’s, for the most part, the cast deftly overcomes this void. Husband John immerses himself in work because he cannot deal with the loss of his wife, whom he says is “the smartest woman I’ve ever met.” Icy oldest daughter Anna rather hard to read; it is not that Bosworth’s performance was lacking,she just does not have much in the script to work with. Youngest son Tom is rarely seen. Notable also is Kristen Stewart’s performance as Lydia, Alice’s youngest daughter with whom Alice is not on good terms. Though her trademark deadpan delivery, grunts, and expressionless eyes are present, the way that Alzheimer’s brings her is closer to Alice is poignant. We see her go from surly, struggling actress to devoted caregiver.
“Still Alice”‘s only flaw is the music: generic, sad instrumentals that sound more at home in a Lifetime movie. The cinematography is spellbinding. Grainy, out-of-focus flashbacks to Alice’s childhood, as well as blurring the environment when she is having an episode, really give the viewer a sense that Alice’s life is slowly bleeding away. The reality and cruelty of her illness are driven home.
Most of us do not like facing our own senility and mortality. “Still Alice” does a splendid job of illustrating this point. It’s definitely worth watching for Moore’s performance alone.
VERDICT: SEE IT.