Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Still Alice - 8 stars out of 10

Still Alice - 8 stars out of 10

“Still Alice” is one of those films that was significant before ever being released to theaters.  This depiction of early onset Alzheimer’s disease is truthful, heartbreaking, and something that we should all see.  Many films have tackled the physical destruction caused by cancer and AIDS, but this film offers an unadulterated look at Alzheimer’s degenerative destruction of the mind.  “Still Alice” explores the emotional suffering of a college linguistics professor as she quickly loses her words, memory, and ability to function; moreover, it shows the devastating consequences on her family as her mind disappears.  This film is particularly difficult because it centers around a loving marriage and a tight-knit family.  It shatters our image of “happily ever after” in lieu of reality.  The success of the film hinges completely on Julianne Moore, and her performance is inspired.  After four previous Oscar nominations, this has to be Moore’s year to take home Best Actress.  The contrast between subtle and dynamic emotional reactions paints the picture of a woman whose soul is at war with her mind.  There is a unique emotional topography as her emotions magnify as she comes to terms with the disease and then slowly diminish as the disease takes over her mind.  Her emotional collapse is physically reflected by her facial expressions as they transform from being full of life to blank.  Of course, the rest of the cast supports the emotionally-charged story.  Alec Baldwin shakes off his typical goofball persona to portray the frustrations of losing your wife emotionally while remaining the loyal caregiver.  While some people might question the inclusion of Kristen Stewart into this cast, she isn’t bad.  Her character lacks emotion but Moore’s performance is so stunning that you won’t even remember that Kristen Stewart was in it.  You need to emotionally prepare yourself for this film.  There is not a silver lining and the reality of this disease is tough to swallow.  But “Still Alice” drives home an important message about life: rather than valuing money or success, value your memories.  Alzheimer’s victims spend each day treasuring each memory, knowing that it could be the last time that they ever get to remember it. 

[Pictured: No picture can do justice to Moore's incredible emotional performance]

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