WRITTEN BY: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
DIRECTED BY: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
STARRING: Julianna Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parish
RATING: 3.5 stars
Columbia linguistics professor Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is respected in her career, has three adult children (Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parish) and is happily married to esteemed doctor John (Alec Baldwin) when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Slowly, Alice starts to lose her memory and eloquence.
Adapted from Lisa Genova's novel, Still Alice is written and directed by real-life couple Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. It is a moving story spearheaded by Moore's performance. Alice specialises in words, which makes her awareness of their disappearance from her mind more painful for her. When she starts to forget obvious things and then gets lost jogging around her neighbourhood, Alice fears she has a brain tumour. But the diagnosis is worse for her given her career and the fact that there is no cure. Alice laments that she wishes she had cancer because people feel sorry for those victims while people with Alzheimer's face more of a stigma. It is not that the audience should feel more for Alice than anyone else with Alzheimer's because of her job and intelligence, but it does further highlight the tragedy. Moore's depiction of Alice may finally be the performance that wins her an Oscar.
Unfortunately, the other actors seem to just be there to support Moore, which is a shame because, as a family drama, it would have been helpful to learn more about them and their experiences as well as Alice's struggles. When her children learn they may also be carriers of the gene, the issue surrounding that are not fully explored. Similarly, her relationship with her family – which is built up as a loving and close dynamic – is not developed enough. The way in which John reacts to his wife's illness is hardly believable and despite Baldwin's best attempts, his character felt incomplete.
Still Alice is definitely a sad film to watch, but it handles its subject matter tastefully. For anyone who has lost a loved one to the disease, it will also probably hit home pretty hard.