Julianne Moore Alec Baldwin Kristen Stewart
Still Alice is an excellent account of how people react under the stress of an ongoing, incurable disease. There is the experience of the patient herself, which resembles—but is distinctly different from—that of family members’. This film eloquently demonstrates that one cannot take for granted that people really know what it’s like from another’s vantage point. In the case of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), both physical and mental aspects of oneself are gradually transformed across time. To adapt, it’s a constant re-learning process of things you thought you (patient or loved one) knew. Particularly in the beginning, tempers are short, and at a time when patience is a must, flare-ups and exasperation occur.
I am really struck by writers-directors’ (Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland) sensitively powerful depiction of the illness from so many perspectives. I presume Lisa Genova’s novel on which the film is based provided the framework within which to convey the intellectual and emotional experience of AD, but the filmmakers have depicted it with such visual accuracy and detail it comes across as very real. Julianne Moore is exactly the right choice to play Alice, who appears so sharp, vivacious, and engaging in the beginning, and then subtly and surely begins “mastering the art of losing” so many of the things she has valued. She allows her facial expression to dissolve into confusion and puzzlement, and then finally into blankness. Baldwin, as her husband, is likewise good in conveying initial disbelief and denial, and then becoming aware that this is new ground in his experience, and his usual problem-solving approach is not going to work. Kristen Stewart especially, and Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish skillfully play the roles of young adult children.
Another huge asset of this picture is its success in showing the horror of AD, while still making it a loving, enjoyable experience for the viewer. An additional jolt comes with genetic considerations that many families must face.
A significant film in depicting experiences associated with incurable illness.
Grade: A By Donna R. Copeland