MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. Starring Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart.
As more adults in America are living longer lives, families have to deal more with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in older adults. Memory loss is a regular part of the aging process. But early onset Alzheimer’s disease is a subject that most persons have little firsthand knowledge. Still Alice is a film that hopes to remedy that problem.
Alice Howland (Moore) is a linguistics professor at Columbia University and well versed in the intricacies of language. Shortly after her 50th birthday Alice begins to forget little things. But quickly the small frustrations turn into major problems as Alice loses her way midway through a lecture and later, during a jog through the park.
Alice seems to have it all: a brilliant husband (Alec Baldwin) who is a research physician, three caring adult children, a beautiful New York apartment as well as a lovely beach house getaway. Alice also has early onset Alzheimer’s disease, which she has inherited genetically from her parents and has likely passed on to her own children.
The entire movie is told from Alice’s perspective. This creative choice forces the audience to observe the illness’ progression as it quickly begins to wreak havoc on Alice’s mind and spirit. Although she is surrounded by highly intellectual family and friends, it is only her youngest daughter Lydia (Stewart) (who had left New York to pursue an acting career) who is able to take time to listen and to accept her mother as she is. Their relationship is well written and beautifully acted by the two female leads. Although Julianne Moore delivers a performance that is winning her well-deserved acting awards, the movie does fall short in a number of areas. We are given most of the medical information via a caring doctor (Stephen Kunken) is a fairly straightforward and dry fashion. Lydia’s brother and sister (Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish) are underwritten with little onscreen time. With the exception of one sequence that carries some suspense and emotion, Still Alice plays like a disease-of-the-week TV movie. The film chooses to bypass the harrowing final days of the disease in order to create a more sympathetic portrait.
Not surprisingly, faith and religion don’t seem to make much of an appearance, but love and compassion show up. I hope that this film connects more persons with the network of care that has been established by the Alzheimer’s Association. No one needs to feel that they are alone as they care for loved ones.
And, by all means, don’t miss seeing Julianne Moore deliver a beautiful performance as Alice.
Three halos: An instructive and sensitive film about Alzheimer’s disease.
Two pitchforks: Some swearing including one F-bomb; a quick comment about oral sex; occasional moments of despair.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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