Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s “Still Alice”

still_alice“A film about a brilliant woman slowly dying of Alzheimer’s? That sounds like a blast! Sign me up!”

OK, so Still Alice may not be your idea of Saturday matinee escapist entertainment. That being said, if you miss out on Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland‘s absorbing and refreshing family drama, you’d be missing out on a towering (and probably Oscar-winning) performance from Julianne Moore and a great film to boot.

Moore plays Dr. Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University diagnosed with a rare form of Early-onset Alzheimer’s. This is a particularly cruel irony for Alice, who treasures words and academia more than life itself. To her immense credit, Moore refuses to let her doomed character lapse into a sappy tearjerker stereotype, keeping Alice’s acerbic wit and Ivy League snobbery in tact while she slowly is taken over by the disease.

“I wish I had cancer,” Alice blurts at one point, reasoning that if she had that more “popular” disease, then everyone would flock around her and wear ribbons instead of treating her like a social pariah. Her loving but hopelessly self-absorbed husband John (Alec Baldwin) tries to counter her, but she’s right.

While it’s hard to take your eyes off Moore’s jaw-dropping deterioration, Alice’s family offers up solid supporting turns from Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, and, best of all, that sneaky rascal Kristen Stewart as Alice’s daughter Lydia, who caps off an impressive year of career retooling (see also: Clouds of Sils Maria, Camp X-Ray) with another strong performance. At this rate, in a couple years all that Twilight business will just be a footnote in Stewart’s career.

Adding to the film’s weight is co-director Richard Glatzer’s real-life battle with ALS, which left the brilliant filmmaker unable to speak during filming. That Glatzer was able to direct a film that hits this close to home is a testament to his strength as a filmmaker and a human being.

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Categories: Reviews

One Comment on “Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s “Still Alice””

  1. January 23, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    I thought this was such a powerful movie!! love the post 🙂

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