Movie Review: Still Alice

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There are few movies with the ability to make you stop. You can’t help but take a moment, and sit in deep thought. “Still Alice” grips you from start to finish–hardly sparing your feelings as it takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. It is a solid two hours of laughter, anger and a lot of tears. Julianne Moore delivers a performance of a lifetime, embodying the struggle of a successful woman diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. There is a certain irony in the fact that this 50 year old woman is a linguistics professor and  is betrayed by the very words she has built her career on. She simply forgets. This movie does a great job in not sensationalizing the loss of memory, instead she begins forgetting the small things; Losing herself on a campus run, or simply misplacing things. The audience not only feels for Alice Howland but is able to somehow step into her shoes. The juxtaposition between her high-class, intelligent demeanor and her loss for words as the disease develops strikes the audience where it hurts. Those who have had a close family member suffer from this harrowing disease know all too well that the film captures the essence of pain that comes with forgetting.

The movie is an adaptation of the novel by Lisa Genova– it doesn’t stray too far from the novel, but the actors in the film bring it to life. The directors: Richard Glatzer and  Wash Westmoreland make this movie almost a crescendo of struggle. Alice Howland’s composed behaviour only strengthens her meltdowns. There are a handful of scenes where Alice just can’t cope. As she breaks the audience does so with her– a trademark of good movies. Not only is this movie poignant and strong, but also soft and flawed. The directors acknowledge the fact that Alice is far from perfect even when she is suffering from the disease. The true foundation of the film, however lies with the family. For the second year in a row Alec Baldwin plays the spouse of an academy award winner. It is the frustration from Alice Howland and the effect she has on her family that makes this faraway concept more personal for an audience that may not know much about the disease.
Many may not realize that Alzheimer’s not only means the loss of memories but also of intellect. Alice is a walking reminder of life’s transience. In a particularly touching scene she walks along a beach with Lydia, using a butterfly as a metaphor for her life. Explaining how despite its short length it was beautiful. The very title of the movie is a tribute to resilience and perhaps the unbreachable core of identity. The final scene is impossible to get through without shedding tears; Julianne Moore looks helplessly into the eyes of Lydia as she reads a moving script. She looks caringly at her daughter, unable to fully communicate. Finally Lydia moves towards her mother and asks her what the script was about, to which she responds– love. “Still Alice”  has earned its place amongst the best of the best (The Oscars). The protagonist Alice Howland a.k.a Julianne Moore took home the academy award for the best actress verifying the power and excellence of the film.