Monday, February 23, 2015

Still Alice - Movie Review

Still Alice is a movie written and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (The Last of Robin Hood) and is based off a novel written by Lisa Genova. The film stars Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Kristen Stewart, Hunter Parrish, Shane McRae, and Steven Kunken.

Alice Howland (Moore) is a highly respected linguistics professor who, while at the peak of her career, has begun noticing signs that her once incomparable intellect has been showing subtle signs of failure. At first, it is just simple words that escape her and only for brief moments, but as time goes on, she begins to forget where she is at, or what she is doing at random times throughout the day. Fearing a bigger issue than just normal aging, she begins taking tests to determine what might be the cause of these mental lapses. Once she learns that her life has begun to take a devastating and tragic turn, she looks towards her family to help get her through what could be a limited amount of time left in her life.

When I sat down to watch this movie, it was mainly to see the Julianne Moore in a performance that has seen quite a bit of attention and was a little fearful that the story might end up being a very slow and depressing journey through her ordeal. What I wasn't expecting to find was a movie so filled with heart and character that it was easy to find comfort in the bond between family members even as they fought and struggled with each other over extraordinary circumstances. You can really tell that all parties involved poured everything they had into turning this story into something really special. As a matter of fact, co-creator Richard Glatzer is actually living with ALS or Alzheimer's disease as it is more commonly known so there truly is a real, personal connection to Alice's story.

Julianne Moore has been appearing in movies and on TV for almost 30 years and, while she has many memorable performances and has created some truly iconic roles over that time, I almost feel like her career is just now kicking into high gear. Moore's performance in this movie will cement her place among the elite actresses working today and will surely go a long way towards her securing more high quality roles like this for years to come. I honestly don't know of many other actresses who could have given such an honest and deeply personal performance that so vividly shows the many stages of Alice's mental and emotional decline. I was also impressed with both Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart as each do a solid enough job in their supporting roles to give me a little more respect for what they each are capable of while also holding back just enough to make sure Moore is the one who is truly allowed to shine.

Still Alice is a very important movie, both for it's subject matter and for a performance from Moore that will easily be considered one of the year's best. ALS is a disease that more people need to be aware of and I hope this movie goes a long way towards raising awareness of just how unexpected and fatal it can be.


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