A movie about Alzheimers doesn’t seem like it would set Hollywood alight. But last year Julianne Moore won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in drama Still Alice. But is the film itself a memorable piece of work?
Alice (Julianne Moore) a linguistics professor at Columbia Univeristy is dianosied with a rare Alzhimers disease at the age of 50. As she struggles to deal with the changes in her life, her husband John (Alec Baldwin) and her three children (Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish and Kristen Stewart) also have to adapt.
This is one of those films where it’s all about the performance. The film lives or dies by the central performance of Alice. In lesser hands the role could be overly-sentimental or melodramatic. However Moore makes Alice a believeable, sympathetic and three dimensional character. She brings to life Alice’s struggle, that not only is she losing her words and her memory, she is losing her identity, her intellect and her independance. Seeing Alice’s decline to the disease is heartbreaking, even more so when you remember that this is not a rare occurance and is something people suffer from everyday, though rarely as early as Alice.
The film’s co directors and writers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland keep a potentially overwhelmingly sad story and keep it simple and restrianed. There’s emotions here, but no hysterics. With Glatzer having suffered from ALS during the making of the movie (and sadly died of complictaions of ALS in March 2015), it’s more than likely the directors were consious of making a more honest movie and tried to avoid more obvious cliches.
While the rest of the supporting cast are fine they struggle to be as rounded characters as Alice, only Kristen Stewart as the youngest daughter Lydia manages to bring weight and depth to her role. However this movie is really all about Moore, proving why after four Academy Award Nominations it was fifth time lucky for the talented Julianne Moore.
Rating 4/5 – sad, emotional and a great performance from Julianne Moore