Still Alice – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

still aliceStill Alice – 4/5 – Poignant and moving; two terms that intertwine closely when it comes to stories that are deeply moving tales.  When it comes to stories that sway the emotions; they tend to be ones that are associated that are ‘startled’ by an unforeseen scenario.   The usual case is a disease; war; unexpected tragedy or momentous life decision.  Still Alice is a film provoked by an unforeseen disease.  This is a film about a woman (A famed professor in Linguistic) who is diagnostic with an unexpected disease.  A character based film; we get to feel and endear along this path of inevitability.  In it, the heart swoons with emotions from this tragic tale.   With one of the best acting jobs to date; Still Alice is movie that will be hard to watch, but a film that is evidently struck by the single mark of the human tale.

Premise:  Alice Howland is a famed Linguistic Professor; who receives a devastating diagnosis.   In this, family bonds are tested; and the most basic tale of human struggle will bring you to define what it means to be; yourself.

At the heart of this film is Alice Howland; played by famed actress Julianne Moore.  She has given some stellar performances in the past; but this is by far her most endearing, touching and compelling role to date.  Alice Howland is a famed Linguistic professor at Columbia University.  With some unexpected memory issues; she comes to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  From here, we watch her bring across the screen a tragic tale of that disease and the toll it takes on the human mind.  Given that this topic is very tough to talk or express in any form of art, Moore does a fantastic job in pulling out the essence of this struggle, while never pushing over the lines of mockery or sensationalism.  The purity in her capture makes you feel that wholesome torment.  You see (through her) that she tries to hold on to the most important things in her life as she falls further from herself.  That hardship, anxiety, despair and completely enrapturing of this tale is complex and sincere, and that is a compliment to Moore’s performance.  She provides the most authentic complexion that can be done for this kind of situation.  The raw reality is profound; and you see it in this amazing acting job.   Outside of her, the rest of the cast is secondary in nature; even if they play the family roles.  You have:

Kate Bosworth as Anna (Eldest Daughter)

Shane McRae as Charlie (Son-in-Law)

Hunter Parrish as Tom (Son)

Alec Baldwin as John (Husband)

Kristen Stewart as Lydia (Youngest Daughter)

As mention, they are secondary to the main actress; but that is an OK thing.   Being as this film follows Alice in her deterioration; the rest of the cast help provide the ‘effects’ it has on the family.  You see how they are aware of the situation; no matter if they deny or accept what is really happening.  Even in there subtlety, you feel the slight angst and anxiety towards this disease.  The standouts are Alex Baldwin and Kristen Stewart.  Both give two spectrums of ‘decisive’ meaning to their interactions with Alice; but at the same time fight to not fall in the trap of shameful thoughts.  Watching their interactions show a raw relationship that define the ‘husband/wife’ and ‘mother/daughter’ roles in the film.   The compliment behavior gives slight hope against the end game; no matter what happens they try to keep up the memory of their mom/wife.


The direction (as mention above) focuses on the main actress; and her battlement with Alzheimer’s disease.  Within that tragic note; it is infused with the overall story ideals of characterization.   The film is (at its basic draw) a human tale of struggle.  We have seen this as the premise in a lot of films; so the most important thing to make a particular one stand out is the execution.  For majority of the film’s running time; the execution is pristine.  You are completely wrapped in Alice’s life and her battling the effects of mental deterioration.   Watching it on screen is by far a hard thing to do, but because of the amazing acting jobs in this film, you get to see that delicate balance of the horrors in the disease while be strong in its poignancy to find that glimmering hope.  No matter how far she succumbs to the disease; the inevitable end doesn’t stop her fight to keep a hold of her memories.  Watching the battlement between the overall themes of ‘hardship vs. hope’, you become part of the struggle.  You are aware of the ideas of how to ‘live’ even when you’re not completely ‘there’ anymore.  That perception is brought upon by the simplicity of the direction; it focuses on the main character and her family.  It takes that interaction and doesn’t sway to being melodramatic or darkly humorous.  It just presents the tale ‘as is’ and gives you that gentle meaning through dialogue and visual conception.  At the heart of the film is that on look of life.  You know that no matter how far she goes from being who she was, the memories will stay strong through her kids, husband and most of all the ‘unforgettable’ lasting moments.  The film’s ending scene brings the whole tale upon a serene note.  You get a swell feeling of warmth and sadness; seeing the irony of being human is not physical but also emotional.  That is what makes this an endearing tale; and breaks the motions of generalization and just gives you a human story.

The visuals are grounded in familiarity.  With the film’s focus on the aspect of the disease and effects it has; the visuals are left to a background situation.  With the look of that ‘familiar’ sense of the real world, it helps compliment within a subtle texture.  The aspects of it being ‘homely’ in nature give you the authentic appeal.  The score is non-existent; but that is a good thing for this film.  The reason it is is because of the simple tone throughout its running time.

Still Alice is at its core, a human tale of perseverance.  With the strong acting job from Julianne Moore; to the overall enrapturing notion of this raw story; this is a film that may not be for everyone to watch.  Even if it is that hard to watch; I recommend this for anyone a fan of the actress; or strong human tales.

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