Sunday, February 22, 2015

Still Alice

Year: 2015
Directors: Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland
Cast: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth

Plot: Alice Howland, a linguistics professor and mother of three, discovers she has Alzheimer's, and struggles to keep her life together as she and her family deal with it.

Review: Still Alice talks about the kind of thing we would never wish upon anyone, not even our worst enemies. While there have been many characters on screen that suffer from debilitating diseases, there hasn't been one quite as tragic as Alice. We're not talking about Stephen Hawking or anyone who rises above their condition at the end, or offers some glimmer of hope despite the odds. This is someone who is suffering from something awful, and all we can do is watch it unfold.

Julianne Moore plays Alice, a happily married linguistics professor with three grown children who starts forgetting things like words, appointments and names. After seeing a specialist, she discovers she has Alzheimer's despite being too young, and worst of all, not only is there no cure for it, she may have likely passed on the defective gene to her kids. The film focuses on how she and her family deal with her condition, which ranges from getting used to her forgetfulness, to making sacrifices they're not ready to make.

I won't lie, directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland did not make it easy for the audience to digest this. Alice's rapid decline from being a successful career woman to someone who can't find the bathroom in her own house is difficult to watch. On the flipside, it can get tough at times to see the movie drive home its point over and over, but thanks to the cast's fine performance, it doesn't get old often enough to make it nauseating.

Speaking of the cast, Julianne Moore is pretty much the main reason to go see this. She gives Alice the perfect mix of fear, vulnerability, strength and heart to justify her presence in nearly every scene in the film. In fact, she is the centre attraction up to the point that the supporting cast can't quite hold a candle to her, though not for lack of trying. Alec Baldwin is solid as her husband and Kristen Stewart is equally effective as her youngest daughter Lydia, who is portrayed as the black sheep of the family, but ends up empathizing with her the most.

The one weakness of the film is as mentioned; the over focus on Alice. This robs the chance for the other family members to show how they deal with the problem amongst themselves, which would have made the story a bit more interesting.

Overall, Still Alice is a sad and tragic film, but one you shouldn't avoid watching. Recommended. (8/10) 

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