Directed by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth
Subtlety is key to the greatness of Julianne Moore's performance in Still Alice, the main reason to seek out this film. She's already received a few accolades for her work, with Oscar already knocking on her door. It's a rare occurrence when a drama works the way Still Alice does, having something so big to say while remaining small and personal.
Dr. Alice Howland (Moore) is the definition of working mother. With three grown children, the linguistics professor is enriched with educational and professional commitments, while relishing in any moment she can have with her close-knit and supportive family. When Alice, who lives and breathes words, begins to forget even the simplest of phrases, she immediately believes she may have a brain tumor. A visit with a doctor reveals that she is tumor free, but may be experiencing side effects of Alzheimer's. After more tests, it is determined that she is, indeed, suffering from the possibly-deteriorating disease. The effects take hold pretty quickly. The dynamics between both her and her family are an interesting study on the family unit and unconditional love.
While the surrounding family, including Alice's son (Hunter Parrish), are important characters to the story, the entire focus is on Alice. We experience each facet of her downfall, which only helps her successes seem that much more impressive and incredible. Moore's nuances as Alice occur in the most brilliant of ways. The subtle changes here and there make it that much more devastating. The beauty of the work is in the quiet strength of Alice and how she chooses to approach her new lifestyle. She doesn't lose her sense of humor and her family never loses their individual resilience.
Baldwin, as the husband, has some great moments. Bosworth and Parrish offer outstanding support two of Alice's kids. It's Stewart, though, as the struggling actor daughter who shines in the supporting roles. It's her best role yet.
The pacing is perfect, never feeling slow or dull. The dialogue is rich and honest, without being too droll. As a package it may not be as big or bright as other films it's next to, but the biting sincerity in Moore's performance should take this picture far.
Runtime: 101 minutes