Still Alice (2014)
Directed by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Based on the book Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Screenplay by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Hunter Parrish, Shane McRae, Kate Bosworth
Alice Howland (Moore) is a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University. When she’s diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s her career and soon her identity begin to slip away. As the disease progresses, Alice and her family are tested.
Lisa Genova is a neuroscientist and author who wrote “Still Alice” in 2007. Her self-published work found wider distribution through a publishing company in 2009, becoming a bestseller. This novel was adapted into the screenplay for this film by Richard Glatzer (Quinceañera) and Wash Westmoreland (The Fluffer), both of whom also directed the film. The cast for the movie includes Julianne Moore (A Single Man), Alec Baldwin (Blue Jasmine), and Kristen Stewart (Panic Room). Hunter Parrish (It’s Complicated), Shane McRae (The Help), and Kate Bosworth (Homefront) also star in this one.
This story takes a long hard look at the realities of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Told mainly from Alice’s point of view, the writing seeks to walk viewers through the constant state of loss she’s feeling. This is executed through a number of important moments and some great visual storytelling. The dialogue in this movie is written with a mix of hope and loss that seem to accurately display the conflicts that come with such a terrifying diagnosis. The story also shows the passage of time in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s jumping ahead. This is a well-written film that pulls at your heartstrings.
The acting in this movie is pretty great. Julianne Moore leads the way with the best performance of her career. Her physical and emotional transformation depicts the toll that the disease is taking on Alice. She also brings out all of the emotions that might come from seeing your own life disappear from within. Her performance rightfully earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Julianne Moore plays opposite Alec Baldwin in this one. His performance is very good, capturing the emotions that must come from seeing your spouse decline so rapidly. Together these two have great chemistry that makes the emotion of the story work nicely.
Kristen Stewart, Hunter Parrish, Shane McRae, and Kate Bosworth round out the main cast in this one. Stewart gives an excellent performance as Alice’s daughter. The two play mother and daughter very convincingly, including tension that can grow between parents and children. This tension adds another layer to the story that really personalized the whole thing. Parrish, McRae, and Bosworth also do nice work in this one. Together, these six actors did a great job coming together as a family in this one.
Visually, this film does some interesting things to convey the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease. It also manages to capture a unique point of view that really accentuates the emotional angle of the film. The pace of the film is also surprisingly quick, especially considering the subject. Instead of allowing you to wallow in the moment, the film moves forward just as Alice is forced to. This doesn’t mean that the emotion doesn’t linger, it just spreads itself out over the whole film.
Like most films of this nature, there is a built-in sadness that’s important to the story. This film also carries a sense of hope that comes and goes throughout the story. If you’re a fan of emotional dramas, this is one you should see. I would also recommend this to fans of Moore, Baldwin, or Stewart. These three really do great work in the film. I give this one 4.6 out of 5 stars.
A very sad movie. But made all the more effective by how good and understated Moore is here. Let’s hope this gives her that Oscar she so desperately has been needing. Good review.
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I’d be surprised if she doesn’t win. She’s just so good.