101 min - Drama

Review: Matt Mungle

Julianne Moore has a wide range of acting dynamics in her repertoire. She can be romantic, adventurous, political, and dramatic. In the new film STILL ALICE she takes on Alzheimer's in an unforgettable performance. It is an emotional journey that is touching and thought provoking. Tackling a subject that impacts many requires a gentle touch that keys in on accuracy. To over act would come across as flagrant and to down play the symptoms would seem unsympathetic. Moore balances the role perfectly.

Alice Howland (Moore) is a brilliant linguistics professor who is well known and tops in her field. She has raised three grown children while keeping her marriage happy and fulfilled. When she starts forgetting words and having trouble with remembering simple things she hopes it is something simple. The diagnosis she gets though shakes her and her family to the core. So begins a sad and emotional journey for not only the characters on screen but those watching as well.

Alice's husband John is played magnificently by Alec Baldwin. It is reported that Baldwin was requested for the role by Moore so that they again would have the chance to work together. Baldwin can often come off brash and sarcastically uncaring. In this role we see a man that has to watch his wife spiral down a dark hole with no way to intervene. As you would expect he has days of frustration and at times impatience but he handles those moments with open handed caring and a raw, nurturing spirit. Even when he doesn't share his emotions outwardly you can see the turmoil in his eyes. This makes the role believable and draws the viewer into the world of the characters.

Though the story revolves around Alice we do see the effect on her family, friends, and co-workers. Her three grown children react as you would expect. They are predictably written with each one having a well worn demeanor. From the rebellious artist (Kristen Stewart) struggling to make it as a stage actor to the prim and proper daughter (Kate Bosworth) trying to manipulate and control each gathering. They each play the part as written, it is just that it wasn't written all that well.

The hardest part to watch is the slow deterioration of Alice. Here is this brilliant mind being stolen from her in early life. Those watching that are at the midlife point will be able to appreciate the gravity of the situation. It would be like watching a guitarist lose a hand or a great singer their voice. I woman who made her career with words can longer remember them or speak them correctly. It is beyond sad.

STILL ALICE is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, and brief language including a sexual reference. It is an adult drama both in theme and content. There is nothing crude in this film and everything is there to show the life Alice and her family face. Thought not expertly written it is performed beautifully by Moore which makes the script seem better than it is. It is safe to say that without the performance of Moore this would be a lackluster fluff piece and not the stark reminder of the horrible disease that Alzheimer's is. I give it 4 out of 5 scrabble words. again this is due to what Moore and Baldwin bring to the screen.

 



 


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