In Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays Dr. Alice Howland, a linguistics professor at Columbia University, who finds that she’s afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, a rare disease that affects people before they reach the age of 65. There’s not much to explain about the film, in general, as it’s a big transition of Alice’s life as the disease advances. The film takes you on a devastating and horrifying deterioration of the brain and its long-term effects for someone with Alzheimer’s.
I want to begin with Moore’s portrayal of Alice. Moore gives us so much in this film, given the challenge of her character’s depth and emotional struggles, and excels at being natural and effective. And that Oscar is long overdue for such an exceptional actress. Alec Baldwin, who plays her husband, John Howland, tackles the supportive husband effortlessly. A performance that I can’t side with is Kristen Stewart’s, who plays Alice’s youngest daughter, Lydia.
She is not terrible nor great, however, she lends her acting to the film candidly and provides remarkable synergy alongside Moore. Given that, she was definitely not miscast.
What directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland give us is a 50 year-old woman who has a great life, job and family at first, only to lose herself slowly later on from the outside world, while her confusion surges and memories dwindle. A great scene has Alice on her daily jog around the campus she teaches, where she finds herself befuddled, an early indication and visualization to viewers of the symptoms presented by Alzheimer’s. However, the scene that struck the most, visually, transpires as Alice struggles to find the bathroom and urinates herself after failing to do so. The film also uses other strong imagery, such as forgetting a recipe and loss of items, words, and even Anna’s, her own daughter, name. There’s a scene where Alice gives a speech before an audience at an Alzheimer’s Association Care Conference, which, in my opinion, is the most emotional in the film. Alice says it best when she expresses how she’s not, “suffering, but struggling to be a part of things and stay connected,” to who she once was.
Still Alice definitely hits home to many people, and given that anyone’s life can slowly disappear in front of their eyes is indeed nightmarish. For Alice’s son, Tom (Hunter Parrish), and eldest daughter, Anna (Kate Bosworth), life is looking bright. Tom has a future career as a doctor and Anna is a lawyer, married and new mother to twins, while Lydia ventures into her acting career. Although fruitful, Anna was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, a genetic nightmare. And while Alice might constantly forget her daughters’ and son’s accomplishments, she strives to “live in the now.”