Still Alice Review
Alzheimer's is a sad disease. I have seen it firsthand in my own family. My grandma on my mother's side of the family had Alzheimer's. Not only was it tough to witness my grandma slowly coming down with the disease, but it was especially hard to watch my mom hurt because of it. There is nothing good about this disease, I can't imagine what it would be like to live with it.
Julianne Moore is an actress I have always loved. No matter what movie, no matter what character, and no matter what genre. It seems she is determined to deliver every single time she is in front of the camera. It doesn't seem to matter if the movie is good or bad, always one of the redeeming qualities of a Julianne Moore movie is Julianne Moore. Any year with a new movie featuring her is something that will peak my interest. In "Still Alice," the new movie where Moore plays a woman struggling with an early onset of Alzheimer's disease, Moore completely outdoes herself.
Alice Howland is a brilliant doctor, and has a wonderful family and an equally wonderful husband (Alec Baldwin). Dr. Howland can help but begin to notice that she seems to forget little things, here and there. Or she'll be giving a lecture at her university then all of sudden forget where she was going, totally blinking out over and over again. She soon learns that she has an early onset of Alzheimer's disease, and how she copes with this disease is the entire movie. As well as how it affects her job, children and husband. Like I said above, its a brilliant showcase for Julianne Moore. What really draws you into the movie is how effortlessly Moore forces us to feel her deterioration. How she slowly transitions to portraying a healthy mind to an ill mind is flawlessly handled. While I still think that Rosamund Pike should take home the Oscar for Lead Actress, Moore is definitely a high contender as well.
Alice's children are played by Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish and Kristen Stewart, yes that Kristen Stewart. Between this and "Camp X-Ray," Stewart has had a superb year. She also further proves that just because your career begins on a terrible foot, doesn't mean you can't have a moment of redemption. She does piercing work as one of the children proactively being there for her mother. Bosworth and Parrish also portray strong work in the movie. I also have to say that we usually don't get such wounded work from Alec Baldwin, as he plays a man who digs his feet into the battlefield, doing everything he can for his wife. It is truly sincere work, and some of the best acting Baldwin has ever done.
"Still Alice" is a harrowing picture, a truly sad picture, which is anchored by wonderful performances. The performances are what elevate this movie from being bland to good. Looking at it from a script point of view, there is not much going on. We see Alice fall from grace, we see her take her life by the horns, we see how it affects everything around her, and then the movie is over. There is no real narrative moving this thing along, it just feels like scenes and then its over. I am sure that is part of the point from a stylistic point of view. If it were not for the great performances, there would not be much to recommend for this.
I think just for the acting alone, "Still Alice" is worth seeing, and perhaps it will help you forget what else doesn't work about the movie. Its hard to bet against Julianne Moore, and she proves that once again with an ailing performance.
FINAL GRADE: B