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Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer's disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Also starring Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish.
- Winner of an Academy Award for Best Actress (Julianne Moore)
- Winner of a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama (Julianne Moore)
- Winner of a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Julianne Moore)
- Winner of a SAG Award for Best Actress (Julianne Moore)
- Winner of a Critics Choice Award for Best Actress (Julianne Moore)
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Moore plays a successful 50 year old linguistics professor at Columbia University in New York. Her husband John (Alec Baldwin), is a highly regarded medical doctor (research) and the couple has the perfect family. A son, Tom (Hunter Parrish from TV's "Weeds") is also a doctor, Anna (Kate Bosworth) is a lawyer, newly preggers and married to a perfect man. And then there is the renegade youngest daughter, Lydia (excellent Kristen Stewart) who has shunned college for an acting career in L. A. Oh, the horror.
I suspect this beautiful family portrait was no accident, setting up a life defining tragedy when Alice (Moore) begins to forget words and getting lost on campus. It turns out she has early onset Alzheimer's and it is a rare, quickly progressing form. Lydia returns to New York and the family circles the wagons, realizing everything is going to change quickly.
The scripting is fairly simple and therefore relies heavily on Moore's acting ability to transform Alice from a brilliant lecturer to someone lost in her own mind. It is an amazing performance as Alice maintains her grace as long as she can. She creates her own little mind games to judge her capabilities and even creates a video to guide herself when she no longer has control. It is devastating and emotionally heartbreaking. Still, I think the filmmakers, including the ALS stricken director, Richard Glatzer and his partner Wash Westmoreland, wanted to provide information to the audience more than they were interested in making us shed tears. I never felt manipulated by the story, although the musical score might suggest as much.
The key is Moore's ability define Alice and her opportunity to control her destiny as long as she can. While the exchanges between her and her family are important, it is equally important to watch Moore as she moves about her routine in complete silence. It is a mesmerizing performance. The film was shot quickly and cheaply and sometimes it shows. But there is no taking away from the fine performances and the important message the film delivers.
This movie appealed to me because it focuses on the experience and feelings of the person with the diagnosis. It shows how it may be easy to forget that Alzheimer's first and foremost is happening to the person who has the Alzheimer's. It shows how the slow loss one one's self is just as painful for the person going through it as those around them, at least for a time.
I found myself annoyed when some of Alice's family talked like she was not even there, even early on in her diagnosis. I imagine this is very common and eventually necessary.
I loved the speech Alice gave at the Alzheimer's convention which pinpoints what it's like to still be aware of your own dwindling capacity and also being able to perceive others viewing and treating you differently.
There is an area of this movie that may bother some; where Alice preplans a suicide while she is still coherent via a video to herself for a later time. Truly driving home how hard it is to follow even simple instructions in advanced stages, we see Alice attempt several times over to follow the instructions she left herself in the video and fail to do so. It was a very powerful and jarring moment.
The subject matter was intense but this movie attempts to balance the heavy subject with some humor and tender moments and a sense of respect for the diagnosis nobody wants to hear but many do. Very well done and I can see why Julianne Moore has received awards for this role.
The movie chronicles the life of Alice, an intelligent woman who is a professor of linguistics at Columbia University who suddenly finds her life turned upside down when she begins to lose her memory. Gradually things get worse and she is diagnosed with the early onslaught of Alzheimer's Disease. The movie shows how Alice bravely deals with the disease in her work, with her family and with herself.
For me the most daring part of the character of Alice was her bravery and staunch firmness on not allowing this disease to control her, but to control it.
"Still Alice" is mesmerizing with exciting performances by all in the film especially Alec Baldwin who plays Alice's husband, but it is Julianne Moore who delivers the performance of a lifetime. 2015 will be the year Julianne Moore finally wins the Academy Award as Best Actress.
And on February 22, 2015 Julianne Moore was indeed named Best Actress at the Academy Awards, an award that was well deserved and long over due.