“Still Alice” Review
Based on the book “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova, the bittersweet four out of five star movie “Still Alice,” directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, tells of an inspiring story of Harvard teacher, and Alzheimer’s sufferer, Alice Howland. An intelligent woman whose whole life is circled around language and of the mind during child development ironically finds out that her memories are fading away due to rare early onset Alzheimer’s disease. A woman who would define herself by her intellect and education is now becoming incompetent, which is not only frustrating, but also embarrassing. The irony in her fate is nothing but unbearable. As her memory became gradually clouded with confusion, Alice begins to contemplate suicide.
This film has the audience endure the painful process of the memory loss that is Alzheimer’s disease. Scene after scene, Alice get’s worse and worse. And what’s so profound about this movie is that the audience feels an extraordinary amount of sorrow for Alice, all with her suffering and embarrassment around her family and students. The music score of the movie does a brilliant job at changing the mood of Alice’s thought process. The music makes it clear, through it’s rhythms and sound, when Alice is confused or scared. This fine detail is another factor that makes this movie worth watching.
Julianne Moore (who plays Alice) gives a phenomenal performance in delivering the essence of such a sympathetic and diligent character. Moore is definitely worthy of the Oscar she won for best actress for her role in “Still Alice.” Alec Baldwin, who plays Alice’s husband and cancer researcher, Dr. John Howland, does an excellent job at playing a supporting a caring husband to his sick Alice. Award winning actress Kristen Stewart plays Alice’s younger daughter, Lydia, who’s a struggling/aspiring actress with an unstable income. Stewart plays her with such finesse, mostly because Stewart was once also an aspiring actress.
When Alice becomes confused, and lost while recalling information, Moore makes a blank, yet doleful expression, which is a perfect touch for such a sympathetic character. That changes when Alice gives a speech to other sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease. That scene is one of the most touching scenes in the movie. Her situation at such a tragic young age makes the speech even more moving to the audience both in and outside of the movie, as she talks about the pain of feeling like such a nuisance to loved ones, the frustration of not being in control of the delivery of words hanging right in front of her. Not to mention the inconvenience and powerless feeling of having her memories washed away, to never be looked back at again. That is the essence of Moore’s motivation when playing Alice. It sucks. But it’s easier when family is there to help, even if they become forgotten for a bit.
The relationship Alice has with her younger daughter Lydia is like any other relationship a rebellious daughter and mother have. Alice thinks Lydia should stop doing what she loves and go to college to achieve something more “realistic.” But on some level, she is proud of her daughter and supports her. This role was perfect for Kristen Stewart because she and Lydia, for starters, are both actors and have the same straight-forward attitude. She’s not afraid to tell her mother that she’s content with her status as a struggling actress. It’s part of the experience. Sometimes it seems like Alice favors Anna’s (her oldest daughter played by Kate Bosworth) status and a married pregnant woman with perfect financial stability and a steady career. Although on some level that is true, Moore and Stewart accurately display the profound mother and daughter love/hate relationship. Aside from their differences, Lydia still has a strong devotion to her mother. At the very end of the movie, they share a bittersweet moment. Although almost completely incompetent, Alice is still able to comprehend the concept of the most important thing that is getting her through this struggle. Love.
“Still Alice” is available only at Cinemark Theaters on Cielo Vista and Gateway West.
By Alyssa Lopez