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Still Alice – Review


Release Date: 20 February 2015 [USA]
Director: Richard Glatzer - Wash Westmoreland
Writer: Richard Glatzer - Wash Westmoreland [Screenplay] - Lisa Genova [Novel]
Cast: Julianne Moore - Alec Baldwin - Kristen Stewart



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Posted March 26, 2015 by

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Still Alice Review:

If I’m not mistaken, this is the last film from the 2015 Oscar season I’ll write about. That was quite a run, with many surprises as well as disappointments. And I might as well be blunt : ‘Still Alice’ is a disappointment more than a surprise to me…

The movie is the adaptation of the eponym novel published in 2007 by Lisa Genova, which presents us with Alice Howland, a successful cognitive psychology professor (at Harvard in the book, at Columbia in the movie) which is also a linguistics expert. Alice (Julianne Moore, from ‘Don Jon’, ‘I’m Not There’, ‘Magnolia’) turns fifty to come to the understanding that something is wrong : she can’t find her words, mixes names in a conversation, forgets an appointment, feels herself lost on a well know area… Anxious, she prefers to get checked by a neurologist, just to be sure. But after a few exams, the diagnosis is clear : she has an early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, probably because of some genetic predispositions. Which means her children might have it too…

Her husband John (Alec Baldwin, from ‘Blue Jasmine’, ‘The Departed’, ‘Notting Hill’), also involved in an academic career, will try his best to support his wife, accompanied with their children Anna (Kate Bosworth), Tom (Hunter Parrish) and Lydia (Kristen Stewart), Lydia being the black sheep of the flock considering her choices to pursue her career as an actress, when Anna and Tom went to college and are now promised to a brighter future.

I don’t remember to have seen anything made by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (both are directors and writers for the movie) before ‘Still Alice’, and I was deeply sorry to hear about Glazter’s passing last week. But this shall not give me reason to keep quiet my reasons to think that ‘Still Alice’, if driven by good intentions, is not really worthy of praises.

Julianne Moore’s performance is good, the tone given to her character is just, I couldn’t agree more, but snapping and yelling two times in a movie is not enough in my book to win the Oscar. The staging is almost minimalistic, with half a dozen of people gravitating around Alice at home for about three quarters of the film, and that’s it. We are standing here, helpless, witness of the progressive decay of a woman, once proud and fierce, trying to get a hold onto something, planning whatever she can to exist a little bit more.

But my main issue with the movie is that the story is about rich people having to deal with an unmentionable situation. Oh, my, god… And I mean, John’s attitude towards his wife’s illness is symptomatic for what I’m trying to say here : he’s so fed up with her at some point, that he simply runs away from home ! I can’t help myself thinking that, putting the same story in another social context would have shown a better angle on how people struggle with Alzheimer’s because some families are not wealthy, some families do not have a house to Montauk to go in on weekends, some families can’t afford a house help, some families can’t support both kids and ill relatives, some families are in much more trouble than just thinking that they once were somebody and that they would eventually become nothing. And that’s the thing with ‘Still Alice’, it forgets to mention that an awful lot of people are concerned with the disease, not just some famous Columbia teacher… The ending is even more disturbing, as it comes down as a missed soufflé that left me on my hunger.

So yes, the movie has some qualities, among which its casting, but I find it very difficult to enjoy it as a whole. It tends to raise awareness on a quite unknown disease, but loses itself with the materialistic concerns of the characters. I clearly was expecting something else.


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Theo Tessa
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