Friday, January 30, 2015

Movie Review ... Still Alice


Still Alice posterIt is easy being cynical about films like ‘Still Alice’.  The ‘disease of the week’ motif used is something award voters love.  Roles featuring terminally ill characters have often appealed to actors looking to enhance their thespian credibility.  Making ‘Still Alice’ stand out is the authenticity it brings.  Examining a tragic illness, the startling performances of its stars ensures ‘Still Alice’ breaks free of formulaic cliché.

Alice (Julianne Moore) is a respected professor who has just turned 50.  Living with husband Tom (Alec Baldwin) and sharing close ties with her family, including daughter Lydia (Kristen Stewart), life runs smoothly.  When noticing bouts of memory loss, she sees a doctor.  Diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s disease, her world is shattered.  Scared of losing her past and facing an uncertain future, Alice relies on friends and family in the cloudy days ahead.

Those who have lived through seeing someone with Alzheimer’s will find ‘Still Alice’ uncomfortable viewing.  An invisible disease affecting everyone around the sufferer, the devastation left is something ‘Still Alice’ realistically tackles.  Despite Alice’s intelligence and distinguished background, she still can’t escape the illness’ dark abyss.  With her family watching her mind slowly die, their reactions and attempts in dealing with Alice is unbelievably sad but inspiring.

Sensitively directed and filled with fine performances, ‘Still Alice’ reveals much of an illness not many want to acknowledge.  Alice’s fear at losing her memories is heartbreakingly portrayed and Moore is superb in her role.  She successfully conveys the dignified grace her character tries to maintain in face of such a dreadful condition.  Managing not to indulge in too many ‘why me?’ moments, Moore under-plays the cruel nature of such an insidious affliction with her co-stars matching her high standard.

‘Still Alice’ may have the trappings of typical award-baiters but is elevated by a convincing script.  It deserves accolades for handling a difficult subject with emotional restraint leaving hope that a cure will soon be found.

  Still Alice 9982

Movie Review Rating out of 10:  8

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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