Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Still Alice’ Review: Starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin & Kristen Stewart

There has not been a film so raw and real about Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects the life of the diseased person and their family like directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s Still Alice.

Based on the novel by Lisa Genova, Still Alice tells the story of Dr. Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), a world-renowned linguistics expert and professor at Harvard University. Alice and her husband John (Alec Baldwin) lead a busy but happy life in Manhattan, while their three grown-up children Anna (Kate Bosworth), Tom (Hunter Parrish) and Lydia (Kristen Stewart) remain in close contact with them.

When Alice begins to lose memory of certain words and after she gets lost during a routine run through Manhattan, she visits a neurologist who tells her she has a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s. She is 50 years old.

Julianne Moore shines as our title character. Her multi-layered portrayal of a woman suffering with early signs of Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking, shocking, intense and raw. In certainly one of the best performances of the year, Moore’s performance rings true for several families and people who have suffered from Alzheimer’s and it is the best movie I have seen that has covered this sensitive subject with such true emotional depth.

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Alec Baldwin gives a touching performance as Alice’s loving husband who is concerned for his wife, yet struggles with how to deal with the sudden deterioration of her memory. Kristen Stewart surprises in the role as the youngest child of Alice, who works in an acting troupe in Los Angeles, despite her mother’s push for her to attend college or get a “real job.” Stewart and Moore have a lovely mother and daughter chemistry and some of the best scenes in the film are watching their relationship change as Alice’s dementia progresses.

Ilan Eshkeri’s (2013’s Austenland) score is absolutely gorgeous and one of best the year. It’s the score the leads the viewer forward, especially in the scenes where there is no dialogue, while Alice is running through Manhattan and while her and her husband enjoy some time at their beach house.

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After seeing the movie twice, there were times when the direction felt a little Lifetime-movie-ish, but thankfully Julianne Moore raises it to another level with her dedicated performance. Though the film could have benefited from better editing and direction in parts.

Julianne Moore elevates this screenplay with an emotionally charged performance that rings true for several people around the world. As moviegoers and critics look back on her career, this will be a performance of hers that is remembered and thought about. Still Alice is a wonderful film that treats Alzheimer’s disease with raw truth and sincerity.

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