Sunday, February 8, 2015

Still Alice Review

I have been lucky enough to not have to deal with Alzheimer's disease on a personal level in my life. From my perspective of merely knowing people by association who have and continue to suffer from the illness, the word heartbreaking doesn't even do it justice. I hear stories being told about a person who discovered they had early onset Alzheimer's, and someone says "That's so heartbreaking." and then the topic changes and everyone moves on, but I cannot shake it that easily. We all forget things, each and every day, but to leave everything behind? To no longer appreciate the things you love, to forget your family and everything that you cherish, to lose the dearest memories of life...this isn't heartbreaking. This is devastating.

Julianne Moore's performance in the film Still Alice is devastating. She has had a fantastic career and yet nothing has come close to her portrayal of Dr. Alice Howland. I was haunted watching such a brilliant, beautiful human being with a natural glow that followed her throughout life lose it all. Despite the recognizable faces of Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish comprising the Howland family, I never once felt a disconnect with the narrative. I bought in early and my tears later on proved it. 

It's difficult to say I enjoyed Still Alice because it isn't a movie I would turn to again for a source of entertainment. It's just such a difficult pill to swallow, but if you are into admiring a remarkable performance, the kind that pretty much defines why they award Oscars, you absolutely must see this film. While not on the level of Julianne Moore in the lead, the supporting work here also deserves recognition, especially the surprisingly nuanced turn by Kristen Stewart as Alice's daughter Lydia. Stewart seems to be an actress that people love to hate because of her association with the Twilight series and likely also due to some real life tabloid nonsense, but she was undeniably an essential piece to this film. While everyone around Alice begin walking on eggshells and treating her differently the moment her diagnosis is revealed, Lydia doesn't. Lydia still challenges her, asking her questions others never would, wanting to learn about Alzheimer's and what her mom is going through rather than avoiding the subject. Great supporting work only makes the lead shine that much brighter, and that was absolutely the case here.

Every single year, multiple films are released that revolve around a heartbreaking subject matter, and I'm not afraid to admit that I often get emotional while lost in the art of cinema. Still Alice cuts deeper than that. Still Alice is devastating. 



  1. Saying I loved this film as well seems so wrong the scene where she watches herself telling her to commit suicide is heart breaking and it seems like its a different actress playing both parts
    One thing id like to see in these disease type films is from the male perspective entirely sure its the female journey but as a child of losing a parent to cancer and my other parent with Alzheimer's now it does get me overwhelmed in my quiet moments

    1. Very interesting Peter, I agree with you. Would be quite interesting to see it from that perspective.

      It really did seem like two entirely different people playing those roles in that scene, I know just what you mean! Brilliant performance.