Still Alice is a jewel of a film with performances that border the sublime. The Golden Globe voters got that too in rewarding the breathtaking performance by Julianne Moore. The film opens on January 16th and is one that should not be missed.
Yet, I almost took a pass on the film. Noting that the film deals with early onset alzheimers disease, I knew it would be emotional and I wasn’t sure I was ready. So many of us have had to deal with family members with this or other diseases that it seems hard as a topic for a film. Nonetheless, I steeled up my courage and went to see a screening of the film and remain moved by the experience. This film is near perfect. Directed and written incredibly well by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, and while deeply a character study with few characters it shines from the large screen. I’m particularly glad to have seen it at a movie theater as one gets enveloped by the acting and strength of the piece. I urge the readers to see it that way.
Was the film hard to watch at times? No, not at all. Yes, it is sad and breathtaking (literally it takes one’s breath away making one want to sit through the credits to collect oneself) but it is so beautifully personal that it becomes a part of the person watching the film. The film literally becomes personal to the watcher. Wow. I don’t think I can accurately describe it, but I bet the audience members will understand what I am getting at when attending this film.
The case is stellar. Each cast member (essentially being the family of Alice) fairly instantly becomes known by the audience. Not simply as an acting device but really because each inhabit’s the skin of the character, and that character’s interaction with the other family members, with ease and honesty. Alec Baldwin is near perfect as Alice’s husband. I don’t want to say more as the beauty of this film is in living it not via play by play. Kristen Stewart haunts one live and via “skype” in a critical way. But, all of the cast bring star turns, and the most stellar remains Julianne Moore.
Its hard to identify a “best” performance by Ms. Moore (we all have favorites) but this is certain to be near the top of a lifetime of great work. Her work is so honest and moving that it decries description. She is Alice, through and through and that is a beautiful thing.
Don’t be afraid of the topic or fear a downer of a film. This is, instead, a jewel that should be long treasured by people who love acting and film! See it on the big screen if you can–it somehow makes it even a more spectacularly personal experience.