Lowdown: A smart, successful, woman is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Live long enough, and eventually you would get to feel the experience of human life falling apart right in front you. For most of us nowadays this is not a result of violence (thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster), but rather the result of old age or ailments such as cancer. Still Alice is a movie that follows one such particular example from early stages till the whereabouts of the end, living off the drama that naturally develops given the situation. Its disease of choice: Alzheimer’s.
Julianne Moore is Alice, a successful person by all accounts: the loving wife of John (Alec Bladwin), the mother of three great children, and a world renowned professor. Seriously, mortals cannot expect more luck than this. Which is exactly why the onset of Alzheimer’s is such a disaster: Alice, and everyone around her, has so much to lose!
Still Alice does not attempt to take proceedings into higher planes. It is a simple drama about the untangling of a life due to the horribly unexpected. All it does is follow its premises through: the effects of the disease on Alice, on her husband, on the careers, and on the kids. Attention is paid to all relationships, but mostly to the third and seemingly non conformist child (Kristen Stewart). Still Alice thus distils the family affairs of a family already busy with what we tend to consider routine family affairs (e.g., IVF) when it forces its members to come to terms with a disaster; seriously, who needs to go any further than this for good drama?
Clearly not with Julianne Moore at the helm. It is not only Moore’s presence that makes Still Alice; in my opinion, this movie’s greatest achievement is in putting such family tragedy on the map in the first place, given the way Western culture seems to pretend events like the ones portrayed here do not happen. Well, they do, and almost each and every one of us will be personally affected by such events – if only through being there when one’s parents grow old.
Style wise, Still Alice likes to mess around with its images. There’s a notable presence of blurry and/or very short on depth imagery. If you like, you can consider it another play along the lines offered by this movie’s title. Well, at least it does not hinder the end result.
Overall: Still Alice proves that all it takes for a good drama is a good idea executed well. 3.5 out of 5 crabs for another Julianne Moore tour de force.