Still Alice

February 2, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Posted in 2014 | 1 Comment
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I admit that it’s a bit of a hard sell to get folks into the seats for a movie on Alzheimer’s. It’s not exactly your typical date fare. However, for all of the tragedy (and melodrama) that you could imagine might accompany such a film, “Still Alice” is remarkably vibrant. There is no easy way to tell the story of a person losing herself, yet this film shows her struggle with dignity and, occasionally, humor. Julianne Moore has been rightly nominated for an Oscar for her role as Alice, the brilliant linguistics professor who is slowly slipping away as her family struggles around her. Moore is a master at subtle performances (see her in “Far from Heaven”) and here she is able to capture the slight changes in Alice’s face and body as she is increasingly less and less present. Moore’s performance is what makes this film work. The other actors (Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart and Kate Bosworth among them) do a fine job but are largely ancillary; they all simply orbit the star attraction. Though I will say that, toward the end and especially in the final scene, Stewart shows a vulnerability and gentle strength that suggests she is a better actor than Hollywood allows her to be. The film ends suddenly, and very effectively, in the middle of the story. We do not see its ending, nor do we need to. This is not a tragedy, meant to have us dabbing eyes as we shuffle out of the theater. Rather, we are witness to courage; the courage of a husband, the courage of children but, mostly, the courage of an amazing woman to face her own fading with whatever dignity she can muster. It was a heavy film but it was also an inspiring one.

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