Still Alice? Deep, Touching and Unforgettable!

Posted by Unknown On Tuesday, June 23, 2015 0 comments
Recently, on a long flight back to KL, I had the luxury of watching a movie - something I have not done for ages.

Unfortunately, fickle me jumped from 'Kidnapped' to "The Grand Budapest Hotel" before I finally settled for "Still Alice".

Actually, right from the start, I had wanted to watch "Still Alice" but was afraid it was too close to home as I am soooooo very forgetful these days.

By the time I selected it, I realized I would not finish it when the plane landed. In fact, I missed a good 10 minutes, thanks to waffling around at the start.

Nonetheless, it is a terrific movie that everyone should watch, regardless of your age. I could really identify with the pain and feeling of desolation Julianne Moore successfully projected via her superb characterization of Dr. Alice Howland.

I have friends and relatives who are coping with loved ones with Alzheimer's. For sure, some can be so unkind, and yet, there are others who are so sacrificial and patient.

If you know of anyone with this debilitating condition, have a heart and reach out.

This movie will surely change your mind.

In particular, I was deeply moved at the scene where Julianne Moore gave her inaugural speech. Watch that part HERE.

Don't miss it! You can watch it online via streaming on downloads or in YouTube here for the official trailer or HERE for the full movie, with Spanish subtitles.

Live in the is what you can do...

Julianne Moore certainly deserves the Oscar for Best Actress 2015. 

A commenter in the Youtube recording of her winning speech said this:

FINALLY!!! So well deserved too. The people acting as if Julianne Moore only won this Oscar because she was "over-due" are deluded. The rest of the actresses in the category gave nuanced or overly-dramatic performances. What Julianne was able to do in "Still Alice" was nothing short of awe-inspiring. She was able to give an immense depth of humanity to her character without resorting to over-dramatized or preachy acting. She was phenomenal and if you saw the film you would agree too.'s the review from The Telegraph and a snippet.

Still Alice: 'Astonishing'

Julianne Moore gives one of her greatest performances playing a professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease

The most intrepid scene in the gorgeous, piercing Still Alice is between Julianne Moore and herself. 

The heroine of Lisa Genova’s 2007 novel is a linguistics professor, Dr Alice Howland, who must master what the poet Elizabeth Bishop called “the art of losing”. She’s diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. 

Alice, who has reached the point of forgetting her children’s names and how to spell “October”, finds a video file on her laptop. She’s not meant to be watching it, or not yet: it’s supposed to be the last message she’ll ever see, when her mind has already deteriorated to a point past endurance. The person on the video is her earlier self – an Alice soon after diagnosis, in the controlled infancy of her illness. 

On one level, this is a kind of trap Alice has laid, to bring on the end in the kindest way for her family. But it’s also a missive of caring and love from a person to her future self. Moore delivers it with consoling patience, as if addressing a child, and at the same time listens, with a trusting smile of befuddled self-recognition. 

It’s perhaps the centrepiece moment of an astonishingly delicate and sad performance. To Moore’s precious gallery of portraits – the ailing, lost Carol White of Safe (1995), the strung-out Amber Waves of Boogie Nights (1997), the emotionally imprisoned Cathy Whitaker of Far From Heaven (2002) – Alice Howland must now be added. 

Her close-ups are minutely calibrated, even by this actress’s celebrated, unshowy standards. The increments of the performance are tiny marvels. It’s these that make the precipitous then-and-now of this iBook face-off shattering to behold. 

The film follows a very straight trajectory into this cruellest of all neurological disorders – rendered especially cruel when Alice, who has three children, finds out she has a rare, hereditary kind. There’s no messing around with fragmentary form, or the memory-as-puzzle-box gimmicks of which cinema can be over-fond, save for a few flickers of childhood home video footage on the beach. 

Despite an overly insistent chamber-led score, it’s extremely moving in the gentlest, most linear way, and the other performances are sterling, too. 

The bristling impatience of Alec Baldwin’s persona is ideally harnessed as John, Alice’s husband, whose scoffing denial of her initial diagnosis elicits lightning rage from his wife – she’s used to him not listening. Kate Bosworth, as their tightly-wound eldest daughter, and Kristen Stewart, as her sister Lydia, do lovely, complementary work. 

Beyond memory loss, it’s a film whose subject is words – their meaning and function, everything they helplessly give away about the brain and its rebellions. The first one Alice forgets, at a lecture podium, is “lexicon”. She goes from a 66-point Words With Friends score, with a well-placed HADJ, to a shadow of the player she used to be, laying down TONE for a mere 6. 

She tests herself, at first, chalking “cathode”, “pomegranate”, “trellis” on the kitchen board, and setting a timer to see if she can recall them. When Stewart's Lydia, months later, recites passages from Angels in America to her mother, they have become mere sounds, but she’s still able to recognise them as sounds conveying something to do with love. 

Directing here, and doing their best work ever, is the married team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, for whom this project is especially personal: Glatzer suffers from a related neurodegenerative ailment, ALS. 

Their film will mean a lot to a lot of people – not just anyone whose life Alzheimer’s has affected, but anyone whom it could affect, ever. Working with the magisterial French cameraman Denis Lenoir (Carlos), they get every shot to take its still, measured toll. 

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