Still Alice is the film adaption of a novel by the same name that was written by Lisa Genova. Directed and written by both Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. And stars Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Kirsten Stewart. It’s the story of a linguistics professor, played by Julianne Moore, who starts becoming concerned when she starts to forget little things. After seeing a doctor about her forgetfulness, she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
I have not read the book, Still Alice, but after watching the movie, I’m intrigued. As I stated before, Julianne Moore plays our main character, aptly named Alice. The last time I had seen Moore was when Corbin and I did a podcast on Hannibal from 2001 where she was the recast for Jodie Foster’s Agent Starling. And although I thought she did a fair job, I don’t think it showed off how good of an actor Moore can really be. Still Alice does just that, it’s the right material for Moore to shine. As the movie progresses, we slowly get to see her deteriorate as her Alzheimer’s sets in over time.
Alec Baldwin was a nice surprise to see (I didn’t take a good look at the movie poster, I know). But he plays Alice’s husband in the story, named John.I thought Baldwin and Moore had really good chemistry. They acted like they were a real married couple. I don’t think I’ve seen them together in a movie before either. For a very concerned, yet content and humble husband, Baldwin is, dare I say it, a character we can really learn from when it comes to dealing with the situation he is placed in. He never loses his cool and always retains himself even when things are really coming down. I was surprise by his performance, it didn’t feel like acting, it felt real.
Kirsten Stewart surprised me in this one, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her take a serious acting role that wasn’t Twilight. And those Twilight movies didn’t do justice for Stewart’s acting abilities. The role she was given in here in Still Alice was great for her. She plays the character Lydia one of the daughters in the family, who is a young woman, probably late teens/early twenties, who is an inspiring actress who is very sarcastic and short-tempered with her family. Our introduction to her character really cements the history between Alice and Lydia, which is cold. But interestingly, the film explores this relationship the most when compared with the other siblings in the family. We see how characters being forced to change for their relationship as a mother and daughter to work out.
Still Alice does take place over a few years, so the movie has to jump around a lot. The opening scene jumps right into the movie with Alice first starting to notice that she’s beginning to forget simple words. Still Alice does really move, but I didn’t feel it was at a pace that was too fast. It hits the important moments, which is done for the character of Alice so we as an audience can get a better understanding of how her mind works, as well as how an Alzheimer’s patient feels. And Still Alice has a lot of “moments”, which is why the film jumps in time a lot. Every scene in Still Alice has a purpose for the story, whether it’s for the character of Alice, or for the family. There’s a speech given around the halfway point of the film given by Alice that depicts what living with Alzheimer’s is like. And the scene is executed very, very well. I don’t want to give anything away, but it helps the audience understand what living with Alzheimer’s feels like. And now that we’ve gotten to know Alice from the beginning until now helps cement that idea of what it’s like. The scene is great, and Moore’s great acting really shows here. It’s an impressive moment in a film that’s more or less shrouded in a dark looming cloud.
This is one movie where I don’t need to really worry about the cinematography or the score. Still Alice is a movie about characters and an important message, not about music or making things look pretty. That’s not to say that the film is gross looking, or sounds terrible. The framing and the score are both good enough for what the film needs while still aiding in bringing out emotion. And emotion is ridden throughout this film. There were many points where things really swell because of how well the emotions are done in Still Alice. This is a movie that knows its subject material, and tells a well written and well-acted story with it. And for how much sorrow there is, the film still has a shred of hope, even though we know how it will end when Alice is first diagnosed. For every scene that shows Alice getting worse, there’s a subsequent scene that shows she’s still wanting to try harder.
So in the end, Still Alice was very good, I very much enjoyed it. It’s on the heavier side with its subject matter, especially for those who have had, or currently have, a loved one with Alzheimer’s. And in terms of issues, I would say there are a couple of times, but one scene in particular towards the end, where the film jumps too far ahead without giving enough exposition to what’s currently going on. Some of that is a pacing issue, where I felt I missed something. I would also say that the children of Alice and John aren’t all developed very deep with the exception of Kirsten Stewart’s character. But regardless, I very much enjoyed Still Alice. For me, this is an 8/10 and a very high recommend. I’ve heard that it’s very close to what it’s like to experience a loved one go through Alzheimer’s.