WHAT’S IT ABOUT? A family tries to cope as their wife and mother struggles with the effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: A): Devastating, but also poignant and beautiful, Still Alice features a Golden-Globe-winning (and Oscar-nominated) performance by Julianne Moore as a wife, mother, and professor whose life is forever changed when she’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The direction, editing, and music are mostly simple and straightforward. What creative flourishes there are are subtle, which seems a deliberate choice: the film-makers know they’ve got a great story and great actors to tell it, so they mostly stay out of the way.
While the characters are fictional, the symptoms and their emotional/relational effects are portrayed in a manner true to the experience of Alzheimer’s-strugglers and their loved ones. I’m not generally crazy about these actors, but there’s no denying that Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, and Kate Bosworth are all in fine form here, delivering performances of wonderful humanity, vulnerability, courage, and compassion. They make for a wholly believable family; there are tensions and arguments, to be sure, but they’re also loyal, supportive, and forgiving. Still Alice is a sad movie, but in its portrayal of a loving family helping each other through this ordeal, it’s also bittersweet and inspiring.
Buy the book; order or rent the movie!
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Still Alice is rated PG-13. It has one harsh profanity and a few moderate and mild profanities (see my profanity criteria). A husband jokingly mentions oral sex during a conversation with his wife. There is very brief partial rear nudity of a woman as her husband helps her to dress. [Spoiler] A woman nearly commits suicide via medicinal overdose.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: We mustn’t allow ourselves to see Alzheimer’s patients in a condescending light; they merit compassion, love, and patience. The time we have with our loved ones is precious and is something to be grateful for every day.
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