Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Shane McRae, Hunter Parrish
Directed By: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Written By: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 1 hr 41 min
Film is a powerful medium, and has a long history of productions written to educate audiences about the effects various diseases have on both the victims, and their families. When done correctly, the audience leaves the theater feeling more empathetic to sufferers of the subject condition, or perhaps even inspired to help any way they can.
Still Alice, I believe, is such a film, and takes a thoughtful look at early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, from the point of view of the victim. And thanks to Julianne Moore’s beautiful well researched performance, makes an impact that lasts long after the end credits have rolled.
The film does however, have a couple of issues in my opinion. The first, is due to the movie’s adherence to the source material, Lisa Genova’s 2007 novel of the same name. But without having read the book, what follows here is honestly my gut feeling (and some wiki-research) about the accuracy of the adaptation to film. As in, it follows the novel too closely, and tells the story solely from Alice’s point of view.
Book to film adaptations earn credit for being faithful to their source material, but that should only be the case if it serves the medium. Still Alice the film, keeps the family at a distance, only allowing the youngest daughter, Lydia (Kristen Stewart) any real quality time with Alice. And that time was mainly used to get more information about Alice’s condition, and how she feels about it. The rest of the family, and weirdly the husband, John (Alec Baldwin), are given very little to do, other than be a sounding board to Alice’s thoughts and feelings on her condition. And while it’s understandable we’d want to focus on this story’s important message about mental health, I personally believe a more expansive view that included how this disease affects the entire family was possible, and even preferable.
The second minor complaint I had, and I’ll admit I’m being a little picky here, was with Ilan Eshkeri’s score. For me, a great movie score is like the cherry on the icing on the cake. One of the last things you think of when listing everything you liked about a film. A component that’s ever-present, enhancing the emotion in the movie, but doing so in a way that doesn’t overpower the story or performances. The score in Still Alice, felt more like a character in the film. Not so subtlety changing to reflect Alice’s state of mind as the disease takes more and more control over her life.
If you enjoy great acting, this film is a must see for Julianne Moore’s award-winning performance. Still Alice will likely hit a little too close to home for people and families dealing with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Still Alice, though skillfully made, isn’t big on visual spectacle, and can be enjoyed just as much at home with a HD rental.
Julianne Moore’s performance. Clearly well researched, as Alzheimer’s disease isn’t just about forgetting things. It’s the way memories come and go, and how a person reacts to compensate. Julianne’s character Alice has taken great pride in her academic achievements, so it feels especially cruel that this disease would diminish her ability to work. As she herself says during the film, she wishes she had gotten cancer instead.