Director: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart
Julianne Moore won the Best Actress Academy Award in 2015 for her role in Still Alice, which received no other Oscar nods. After watching the film, I can say that I agree completely; Moore was excellent, perhaps the best she’s ever been, but the film was more a conduit than a masterpiece, a movie that brought a subject to life and benefited from one amazing performance. Moore has never been my favorite; actually, I’ve gone as far as saying that she might be my least favorite Hollywood actress. She’s always bothered me, never impressed me, and I could never quite see what others saw in her. Give a little credit to some heavy subject matter that was bound to captivate audiences, but also give a large dose to Julianne Moore, who took the opportunity presented her and created something, yes, award-winning, but also beautiful.
Fifty-year-old Alice Howland has begun to notice a few memory issues. Sure, she’s getting a little older, but this accomplished academic has always been incredibly sharp, impressively intelligent, and driven toward excellence in all areas. But when she finds herself forgetting her route home and scheduled appointments, Alice begins to worry that something is wrong. She is soon diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, an illness that will quickly eat away at her memories, abilities, and mental capacities. The diagnosis is only the beginning, as her family members must now each deal with Alice’s illness in their own way, accepting or denying, supporting or distancing. And as their mother/wife/colleague begins to lose herself, the pieces that remain will remind them of the women they once knew, the woman who is still there beneath an obscure curtain of disease.
Prepare for some intense material here, and criers will cry. The story is so very sad, so very real, and impactful very often. It’s a snapshot of a life affected by Alzheimer’s, but also of those peripheral lives that change as well. You’ll think about your parents, you’ll worry about yourself, and you’ll fear for your children; the reality of this disease will get under your skin, it’s too strong to deny. The simplicity of the film actually lent itself to the subject, giving us our medicine without sugar, showing us the goods & the bads with similar and impartial clarity. And then, of course, there’s Julianne Moore, with an incredible performance that was honest, realistic, & difficult. She was great, the film had a solid plot, and the run time was succinct, culminating in a movie that wasn’t exactly enjoyable, but rather impressive, hard to watch but important to see.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆