It probably goes without saying, but in my opinion "Still Alice" is
right up there among this year's best pictures.
And what ultimately makes author Lisa Genova's debut bestselling novel
so personal, yet so universal and identifiable in it's messages, are
the performances. Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart are a part of a
strong supporting cast, that will leave a lasting impression in your
mind and it will be more than deserved. Both of their characters were
so real - warm, supportive and earthly. And while both Baldwin and
Stewart have taken the occasional misstep in their respective pasts,
both of them once again showed without a doubt their acting abilities
and scope, a word linguistics professor Dr. Alice Howland used, albeit
with great difficulties, to describe her daughter Lydia (played by
Stewart) in one point of the film.
And what a performance by Julianne Moore that was! She essentially made
an already rich character in Alice, a frankly too young Alzheimer's
disease patient, who also happens to be a renown linguistics professor,
even more dimensional and rich. Moore's Alice is a strong, intelligent
woman when we first meet her at her birthday at the beginning of the
film. At that moment, Moore is confident and full of purpose. As she
gets diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer's disease, that her
children might have inherited from her, and time goes by, Alice becomes
a shadow of herself, whose mental health deteriorates at an alarmingly
fast rate. And that is the part that Moore portrayed with such skill
and graceful pain, that the viewer can't help but get irreversibly
emotionally involved with her character. We feel for her, we cry with
her, we wish she would get better, although it is clear that is sadly
not going to happen. And Moore's Alice knows it as well. And that makes
the journey through her story even more challenging, difficult and
painful for the viewer. Or as Beverly Beckham of The Boston Globe put
it "This is Alice Howland's story, for as long as she can tell it".
The film was directed and adapted by Richard Glatzer and Wash
Westmoreland, who share both the writing and directing duties on almost
all of their projects to date. The two somehow complete each other and
find the balance, that is needed to tell such a delicate story in a
manner, which can do it proper justice.
I will probably be the only one saying this, but I thought the score
was tremendous as well. Kudos goes to composer Ilan Eshkeri, who did an
amazing job on the film. The music is often intense and minimalistic,
it feels like it is just an addition to the already rich environment
the characters find themselves in and I would love to see at least a
nomination at the Oscars for Eshkeri, although I highly doubt it.
So, to wrap it up in a nutshell: Still Alice is a wonderful film, an
intimate and fascinating study in the field of family drama, and one of
the year's best. I definitely hope to see some awards buzz mainly
around the cast - both Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart deserve it for
their delicate and supportive portrayal of husband John and youngest
daughter Lydia, respectively, who never gave up on Moore's Alice. And
Julianne Moore - well, what can I say - her brutally sad and honest
portrayal of Alice deserves to go down in the books of top-notch acting
and she will reap the fruits of her work a long time from now (well,
mostly, at the end of February, I hope).
So it is a nine out of ten stars from me, only because I felt there
could have been more screen time for the other children in the Howland
family, and therefore the film could have been at least 10-15 minutes
But solely on Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart's
impeccable acting, I say this film is among the very best in the
subject and also among the best titles this year.
My grade: 9/10