Still Alice Review: Slowly Yet Brilliantly Withering Away

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As far as depressing films go, Still Alice handles its subject in a very tasteful manner. This is a film about Alzheimer’s disease, not much else, which is actually much to its benefit.

One of my biggest issues with this year’s The Fault in Our Stars was the way it used a deadly disease as a plot device to come up whenever it was convenient for the writers. In Still Alice, the titular character’s illness is intrusive virtually the entire 100 minute runtime, getting worse as her mind slowly decays. It feels authentic, mostly thanks to Julianne Moore’s harrowing performance.

Moore plays Alice, a linguistics professor at Columbia who suddenly finds herself forgetting the words she made her life’s work out of. Once she’s diagnosed, her family get involved. Alec Baldwin initially seems a bit miscast as Alice’s loyal husband, but by the end of the film, his character becomes one of the richest and most complete.

Rounding out the family are Alice’s three kids, played by Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, and Kristen Stewart. Oddly enough, it’s Stewart that stands out the most. She’s the only family member that really believes her mother is still in there somewhere. Their relationship is the heart of film, lending it the most worthy drama and even some much needed humor.

But for all the success of the family drama, eventually the film’s subject matter takes a tole on itself. Things get depressing quick, and they stay that way until the final shot. Frankly, it’s a lot, but that’s what comes with these types of films.

Still Alice is still effective, but maybe a little too much. It does feel like the disease is being jammed down our throats by the end, but it’s difficult not to simultaneously praise how unapologetic the portrayal is. The film is truly rooted in Moore’s performance. Without it, Still Alice wouldn’t be much more than a sobfest. Despite all the reaching for tissues, Moore gives this film something to celebrate. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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