Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Still Alice

At this year’s Oscars, The Theory of Everything was the talk of the town when it came to the acting awards. “Oh, Eddie Redmayne delivered the best performance of the year, delicately portraying the deterioration of a horrible disease” was the general consensus, no?

The majority of people weren’t even aware of Still Alice, out now on DVD & Blu-ray. I’ll admit, I didn’t know a lot about it myself. I hadn’t seen it, nor did I know what it was about until Oscar night. It’s a film that completely slipped by me and I’m angry at myself for letting it. Because you know what? Julianne Moore’s Oscar/Golden Globe/BAFTA-winning performance here is the best of the year. Written and directed by Wash Westmoreland & his late husband Richard Glatzer and based upon Lisa Genova’s book of the same name; Still Alice tells the story of Alice Howland (Moore), a respected linguistics professor who, when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, has her world turned upside down. 

Still Alice is an absolutely phenomenal little piece of cinema. The entire cast are brilliant, with surprisingly great performances from Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart as Alice’s husband and daughter, respectively. But naturally, it is Julianne Moore who owns every second of the film. Moore delivers the finest performance of her career to date as the slowly deteriorating Alice, equally portraying bravery and fear, as the disease takes over her mind. This is one of the most compelling and believable performances I’ve seen in a long time, and is all the more moving for it. I shared in her onscreen daughters’ and son’s heartbreak as we witnessed a smart, passionate woman slowly forgetting everything and everyone around her. As such, Still Alice is a hard film to watch – especially, I would imagine, if you’ve witnessed the effects of Alzheimer’s on someone for real - but is a rewarding and inspiring watch. 

As with many independent dramas of this type, the film is a performance piece first and foremost. The heart and drive of the story is Alice, who we spend almost every minute with. But where other films like this can let themselves down – the recent Jennifer Aniston vehicle Cake delivered fantastic acting and characters, but little else – Still Alice is an all-round brilliant production. I was completely engrossed by every second of the film’s comfortable 90 minute runtime, and not a moment of that was wasted. Still Alice is a very understated piece of cinema, with subtle and delicate beauty throughout. A film around this subject could be very depressing, and while it is certainly moving, it is overall an inspiring piece. I’ve watched a lot of inspiring films this year, and this is one of them. It has reminded me of how things like this can happen, and that we should live each day like it’s our last.

Still Alice is a film that speaks for itself, and there’s not a huge amount I can say about it in this review. It’s a deeply affecting yet gentle look at the effects of a horrible disease on a lady and her family, made all the more exceptional by Julianne Moore who delivers a phenomenal performance.

Thankfully, I’ve never had to witness a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Statistically, one of you lovely readers will have. My heart goes out to you, and to all those affected by Alzheimer’s. To those suffering and struggling through it, and those standing by the sides of the afflicted. It is a horrible disease and I can’t imagine what it must be like. You are all in my thoughts as I write this. I would also like to take a moment to spare a thought for one of Still Alice’s directors, Richard Glatzer, who unfortunately passed away on March 10th 2015 of complications from Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 63 years old. May he continue to rest in peace. 

Still Alice has moved and inspired me beyond words, and receives my highest recommendation. 5/5.


Sam Love

Still Alice at CeX

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