Review – Still Alice

Poster for 2015 drama Still Alice

Genre: Drama
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 6th March 2015
Runtime: 101 minutes
Director: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Writer: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth
Synopsis: A sharp professor finds her life changing suddenly when she is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

 

 

Very few people could quarrel with Julianne Moore winning Best Actress at this year’s Academy Awards. Her performance in Still Alice is excellent, but it’s also a gong that’s long overdue given Moore’s glittering career as arguably modern cinema’s greatest actress. Moore is a deserving winner and Still Alice is every inch her movie.

Linguistics professor Dr Alice Howland (Moore) is diagnosed with early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease shortly after celebrating her fiftieth birthday with husband John (Alec Baldwin). Her eldest daughter Anna (Kate Bosworth) tests positive for the Alzheimer’s gene, whilst younger daughter Lydia (Kristen Stewart) decides not to be tested. As Alice begins to deteriorate, her condition takes a toll on family life.

There’s no other place to start when discussing Still Alice than with Julianne Moore’s towering central performance. Moore turns on her talents from the very beginning of the film, creating a sympathetic, perceptive and highly intelligent character who couldn’t be living a healthier existence. This makes it all the more surprising and shocking when she is struck by the illness.

| "All my life I’ve accumulated memories. They’ve become, in a way, my most precious possessions."

Moore gives a well-researched, complex portrayal of Alzheimer’s. It’s a performance that could easily have been led by on-the-nose set pieces, but is instead guided by facial expressions and quiet bewilderment. Moore’s performance is an oasis of controlled subtlety in a film that doesn’t have much nuance to spare.

Outside of Moore’s work, Still Alice is a film that struggles with its own low-key production. It is directed as if it’s a television movie and there’s certainly a lack of gloss to proceedings. There’s also a lack of performance quality, with even an impressive Kristen Stewart turn left looking vastly inferior to the titanic talent of Julianne Moore.

Still Alice also suffers from a rather directionless plot. There’s little sense of progression, with the film merely ambling through various periods of time with no rhyme or reason. When the credits roll, it’s as if the film has stopped rather than reached a logical conclusion.

| "There’s no peace in being unsure of everything all the time."

Overall, Still Alice is a distinctly mediocre film elevated by the sensational work of its lead performer. It will not be remembered as a great film, but it will live on in history as the film that finally got Julianne Moore the recognition that she has always deserved.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

It’s a little flimsy as a complete package, but Still Alice is all about its terrific central performance. Julianne Moore brings real sensitivity to the title role, truly deserving the sackful of statuettes now perched upon her mantle.

The supporting players are solid, but resolutely unexceptional, much like the filmmaking itself. The script flounders and the direction has very little of interest to it.

This is, however, Moore’s film. And she knocks it out of the park.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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