Still Alice (2014)

stillalice_2014_poster
Still Alice (2014)
  • Time: 99 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Directors: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
  • Cast: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart

Storyline:

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested.

7 reviews

  • How many of us have experienced the occasional lapse of memory? Or perhaps been at a loss for a particular word? Do we give these odd moments a second thought? Or merely chalk them up as brain blips or signs of growing older? For Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), a highly respected linguistics professor, not remembering the next word in her lecture or momentarily forgetting her surroundings become alarming breaches, leading the 50-year-old wife and mother of three to consult a neurologist Dr. Benjamin (Stephen Kunken).

    Her MRI and bloodwork rule out a brain tumour, but the memory tests Dr. Benjamin conducted indicate sporadic memory impairment and evidence of a decline in memory function. Alice initially conceals her condition from her family but after she introduces herself twice to her sons’ latest girlfriend, she allows her husband John (Alec Baldwin) to accompany her on her next visit to Dr. Benjamin, who confirms that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s and that the disease is genetic.

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    • This film is highly recommended. (Rating: ☆☆☆ ½)

      Alice Howland is a successful professor from Columbia University who has it all: loyal husband, three loving children, and a well respected position at the college. She also is diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s at the age of 50. We watch her deterioration from an attractive professional to a slow-functioning recluse and it is riveting drama. We are on this harrowing journey with Alice as we witness the death of a human being while still living.

      Written and directed by the team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. Still Alice resonates with passion and clarity. The directors tend to overuse flashbacks of Alice’s past to emphasize her before and after dilemma, but they also use many wide-angle shots and out-of-focus viewpoints to stress Alice’s beleaguered state most efficiently.

      Julianne Moore is masterful in the title role. A tilt of the head, an inquisitive look, a far-off blank state, the verbal loss of words, all these frightening aspects of Alzheimer’s are there in her mesmerizing performance. Most effective are her ways to cope with the ravages of this disease: written notes to herself, on paper or on the computer, highlighting lines from her lectures to remain focused, visual clues throughout the house wherever possible. Her lecture to a medical staff and families of Alzheimer’s patients is one of the film’s most emotional sequences and one of Ms. Moore’s finest moments in her illustrious career. She is so well deserving of an Oscar in this great role.

      Giving her ample support are a strong ensemble. Alec Baldwin as her flawed but supportive husband, Kate Bosworth as her eldest daughter, Hunter Parrish as her son, and especially Kristin Stewart as her flighty daughter, Lydia, are totally convincing as the family members thrown into Alice’s hellish world.

      Still Alice becomes all too real and doesn’t hold back from showing the ugliness of this disease (except for the film’s slightly abrupt ending). The film is chilling in its depiction of a woman trying to come to terms with a disease that will ravish her own being and impact her family from years to come. It is, at times, disturbing viewing and heart-wrenching to witness. But the film needs to be seen, not only as an informative treatise about Alzheimer’s, but also as a lasting testament to human strength and endurance.

      NOTE: This is a remarkable film that enlightens and educates everyone to the stages of this dreaded illness. Hopefully, the film can engage world health organizations and promote more government funding to try to eradicate this troubling disorder with the same passion and monetary backing used for other illnesses. The time to act is now.

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  • Still Alice is a modern drama focused on Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), a renowned and successful linguistics professor. She lives comfortably in New York with her scientist husband John (Alec Baldwin), though she is often visited by her three grown children, Anna (Kate Bosworth), Tom (Hunter Parrish), and Lydia (Kristen Stewart) who resides in LA. Shortly after her 50th birthday Alice is startled as she begins to gradually lose words and other important details from her life, prompting her to visit a neurologist. She is soon diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s and begins to lose her ability to communicate and be herself as her family watches on.

    Directors Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer are clearly comfortable with their partnership as Still Alice is their fifth collaboration, and certainly their largest. There are three main filming styles that govern the film and govern it well. There is the keenly framed, tripod-mounted shooting style that dominates the film as it is representative of the lucid Alice and the world of those around her. In direct and simple contrast is the hand-held and/or focus-heavy shooting of the afflicted Alice.

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  • It seems that in life the way it develops, we are bound by chapters that define who we are, our priorities and ability to adjust is very important.
    We could categorize the childhood as a primary time of learning and foundation setting to our sense of self and who we become in the future. When we are very little we relay on our parents to show us the way and guide us through this difficult time of self discovery. In age 25 to 40 we hopefully chosen the careers we wanted, found the one we want to spend the rest of our life with and have kids. From 40’s to 60’s we start to feel as our bodies deteriorate, there might be sense of regret setting in for inability to accomplish the things we wanted in life. Man slowly start to loose their interest in things which defined their masculinity, like sex and often willingness to compete in physical strength. Women go through their menopause, slowly do not feel desired by men. Often cut their hair short which brings in them sense of masculinity, where finely they can express their masculine site without a shame of being called the “L” word. There is nothing more to prove, their job as a sex object is done. From 60’s to 80’s and if you lucky to 90’s we go back to the child like state. Our memory deteriorates, we loose our hair our teeth and power over of control in our sphincter muscles creating the feeling of inner child like behavior. We could theoretically say that we start as children and in a way we go back to that same state in the end before we die. The most heart wrenching thing is to watch someone you love or care about, skip some of those stages in life and and deteriorate in front of our eyes much before their time. We feel like somehow the natural progression of life has been violated.

    Julianne Moore delivered last year two Oscar worthy performances. First one as a washed up actress trying to remained relevant in youth obsessed Hollywood working on her mother issues in “Maps to the Stars” directed by David Cronenberg and much more mellow yet dramatically powerful portrait of a alzheimer’s disease stricken linguistic professor, who at an early age 50 starts to experience a deterioration of her memories and her identity. Now, at the first glance the performance in “Maps to the Stars” seems more flashy and intense and their for immediately impact full on the audience. I also thought that it will be sure contender for the best female Oscar nomination, even though the world of Hollywood industry has not been painted there with very flattering brush. After watching both movies I must say I get it now, why “Still Alice” got the note over “Maps to the Stars”.

    Anyone whoever witnessed a deterioration of a loved one from ether cancer or any other illness will, connect very strongly with this material. The film starts with a showcase of Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) as a sharp, smart and very successful linguistic professor with a lot of confidence in her ability to articulate her thoughts. As the film progresses so does the illness and for someone who prides themselves on their knowledge and intelligence, inability to remember things takes away their identity one grey cell at the time. Of course this is not only her own journey but her whole family is going through the whole ordeal together. Her husband played by Alec Baldwin in the beginning is loving and caring, but with time and Alice deterioration in to a child like state, looses his faith and starts to focus more on his career, thinking that she anyway will not know what is happening around her. Her kids, Kristen Stewart playing Lydia a wane be actress in the family of academics is fighting for the right to be herself and not follow her parents footsteps. The relationship between her and her mother is complicated one though they seems to be the most close from the whole family. Kate Bosworth playing Anna is the miss perfect on the way with twins, always have conflicts with her younger less structured sister. All the performances help immensely in obtaining true believability of this piece. Director’s Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland together made some interesting choices in terms of how they told the story, but also how it is shown on the screen.
    For example in the first two times wham Alice is being diagnosed with Alzheimer they do not show the doctor to us. We only see Alice discovering this bad news for herself and this is how the story is told from her point of view. The music is used in very brilliant way as it changes throughout the movie, as the illness takes over and deterioration began the music is scattered and unmethodical.
    The choice of the name of our protagonist is also used in purposeful way and just like “Alice in the Wonderland” Julianne Moore character spirals in to the rabbit hole of unknown, without the thing that made her who she is, her intellect. You will surely share a tear here and there, due to the subject matter and truly wonderful, sometime underplayed performance by Julianne Moore.
    In this film her character deteriorates too soon considering her age being 50 and that is an additional reason why we feel sense of melancholia when the movie is over. I am pretty sure that she will get an Oscar for this role specially considering that she already picked up the British Bafta Award and a Golden Globe as well.

    Go check out this film because performances that honest do not happen every year. Last year was a great year for Julianne Moore and slowly she starts to catch up behind Meryl Streep as the greatest actress of her generation.

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  • Quickie Review:

    Alice (Julianne Moore) is a linguistics professor, highly respected for her intellect. However everything she valued most about herself is threatened when she is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Both Alice and her family struggle together to fight the disease as it slowly progresses and starts to take its toll. Still Alice, is a tragic tale brought to life by a great ensemble cast the gem of which is Julianne Moore. A truly emotional drama that does justice to the real people and families who have suffered through such diseases.

    Full Review:

    Of course, thanks to the international release schedule I only just watched this movie. I already knew that Julianne Moore won the Oscar for her performance. So I was curious to see if she meets that calibre. She absolutely does.

    What I liked about Moore’s performance is that it felt authentic. It was never over the top, desperately trying to grab your attention. The subtlety in her acting makes you empathise with her. As a result the character Alice is very relatable and so you want the best for her. Even when she has some questionable reactions on how to fix her problems, you understand her reasoning. Another impressive aspect is how well Moore shows the phases of the disease progression. Alzheimer’s disease is not a sudden occurrence and the symptoms are not always obvious. Throughout the movie you see little glimpses and changes in Alice’s behaviour. All of which add to believability of the extreme hardships of the characters involved.

    I have been praising Moore so far, but I must mention the supporting cast who were critical to the story. Still Alice is not just about Alice, it is also about her family and how they are dealing with the diagnosis. I can’t believe I am saying this but Kristen Stewart playing Alice’s daughter was actually good in this movie. Yes, I’m talking about Bella of the Twilight and Snow White & The Huntsman fame. Who knew right? The character of Alec Baldwin, the husband, was quite refreshing. All too often Hollywood is filled with movies about failed marriages and infidelities. I guess that has conditioned me to expect Baldwin’s character to try to escape the marriage. Instead I appreciated seeing an actually supportive husband. Of course there are moments of weakness, where he is not sure what to do or how to help, but I doubt anyone in that situation would be confident 100% of the time.

    The key to success for this movie is realism: realistic characters, relationships, and hardships. The realism on top of the stellar performance by Julianne Moore and solid supporting cast makes Still Alice a justly inspirational film. Now I understand and support the decision to give Moore the Oscar. This is why we forgive her for Seventh Son. I’d be shocked if anyone isn’t moved by Still Alice.

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  • Movie Name : Still Alice
    Genre : Drama
    Rating Good 3.5 /5

    Best part of watching a Oscar nominated film is that some unique constraint is always attached to it – be it direction , screenplay , story or acting. Now acting is what make Still Alice immensely watchable and Julianne Moore gives the performance of her life time.

    Still Alice tells story of an English professor whose life changes after she is diagnosed with Alzeimer’s disease. The film reflects the chronicles of life of protagonist post-disease and characters surrounding her life.

    The story is pretty simple and straight and yet convincing which is adapted on a novel based on same name written by Lisa Genova. The director-duo Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland succeeds in keeping you engaged for next 101 mins and extract impeccable performances by the star cast for which they should be given full-marks. Show-stopper is certainly Julainne Moore with her award-winning performance. She breathes through the character of Alice as if it was tailor-made for her. You will feel sympathy for her yet encouraged with her dialogues “Live in the moment”. Rest of the starcast equally contributes to the film’s story. Art direction is good. Cinematography is nice. Background score is tuneful. On the flipside, it could have been best film if little more focus could have been given to the emotional quotient.
    Julianne Moore is electrifying which is enough to make you watch the film

  • “Still Alice” is a pretty good but sad film about a college professor who is diagnosed with a rare condition that affects her and her family’s lives. The film shows how the disease comes between each individual in the family and pits some of them against one another but at the same time brings them together, all the while Alice, played by Julianne Moore, prepares for what she finds out is the inevitable.

    Some critics and users gave this film a bad review but with the outstanding performances by Julianne Moore and Kristen Stewart this film almost couldn’t help but be an Academy Award nominee, at least. As usual Julianne Moore delivered a wonder performance as her role of Alice and Kristen Stewart’s almost inability to smile made her perfect for the role as Lydia because it caused her demeanor to look as if she didn’t care for her mother in the latter days of her illness when she really did care.

    The critics and users who gave this film bad reviews were probably looking for something else and not really focused on what this disease is about.

    Even besides that, this film was over all a good one to watch. Anyone who has ever had to care for someone with this condition can probably relate to this film but it was weird to see a person succumb to this disease at a young age. That’s really what made it so sad.

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