From Nouns to Neurons

Still Alice

still_alice

Directors: Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland

Cast: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Kristen Stewart, Hunter Parrish

The hugely talented Julianne Moore (Shortcuts, The Hours, The End of the Affair, Magnolia) excels in this quiet film Still Alice about the devastating effects of early onset Alzheimer’s based upon the novel by Liza Genova.

Having already won a 2015 Golden Globe and Bafta award for her nuanced and crushing performance of Alice Howland, Julianne Moore’s acting talents are definitely confirmed as she takes on the complex role of this Columbia University professor of Linguistics who suddenly has to confront a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s after she forgets her running route around campus and even her lecture notes on phonology in front of her graduate students.

Still Alice sensitively portrays what this disease can do an individual so educated and whose life has been devoted to the study and assimilation of words and language. Alice’s seminal doctoral thesis was entitled from Neurons to Nouns and now this esteemed linguistics professor has to grapple emotional and spiritually with a disease which gradually erodes her much cherished brain power to a point of complete and utter forgetfulness.

Moore’s performance is utterly entrancing as she has to deal with breaking the news to her husband John Howland wonderfully underplayed by Alec Baldwin and her grown up children, the sensible daughter Anna Howland-Jones played by Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush, Straw Dogs), her doctor son Tom played by Hunter Parrish (It’s Complicated) and her wayward and artistic youngest daughter Lydia beautifully played by Kristen Stewart (Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman).

It is really the scenes between Alice and Lydia that are so touching and poignant as Lydia realizes that her mother’s reasoning powers will soon simply disappear through familial Alzheimer’s disease and offers the most support. A devastating loss indeed for an accomplished woman like Alice who is only 50 years old.

Directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland ensure that Still Alice remains Julianne Moore’s film and rest of the cast are merely supporting its star as she significantly unravels despite every effort to stop the onset of this cruel disease. In one scene Alice says, “I feel like my brain is falling out”.

Like Canadian director Sarah Polley’s nuanced film Away from Her, featuring a superb performance by Julie Christie, Still Alice features a stunning and intelligently researched portrayal of a highly educated and independent woman who suffers a cruel fate indeed. Julianne Moore is phenomenal in this film and although Still Alice can be watched on the small screen, the film remains a gem of a movie exceptionally well acted by its supporting cast and by its leading star.

Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Away from Her, Still Alice is a nuanced and touching portrayal of a woman who slowly but surely loses her ability to remember words and pronounce them. Still Alice highlights the importance of memory, images and essential familial support when a patient, whatever their age, gets diagnosed with any form of Alzheimer’s.

 

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