Friday, March 20, 2015

Still Alice

***1/2 out of ****

I feel bad that I failed to see Still Alice prior to Julianne Moore deservedly winning an Oscar for her superb work in the leading role. The only thing that dissuaded me from making it an immediate priority, was a review I heard, suggesting that the performance was the only thing notable about the film.

Based on the fictional novel by Lisa Genova, Moore plays Alice Howland, a successful professor in linguistic studies at Columbia University, who discovers, after an array of random memory problems, that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

With the support of her husband (Alec Baldwin) and grown children, she prepares for the inevitable deterioration of a mind once so committed to words and memories. Most of the story comes to focus on her troubled relationship with her youngest daughter, played quite well by Kristen Stewart (thankfully taking a role, which suits her), who has been pursuing a career in theater without a solid plan.

I feel like I was misled into assuming that the film was only performance-driven, when so much of it is tailored to compliment Moore’s portrayal of a woman dragging her awareness of an ailing mind to its furthest limits. As a drama, it isn’t astoundingly original (and it wouldn’t have been the same without Moore), but this is still a piece of heavy fiction that delivers a brutally difficult world of truth worth recognizing.

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