Get ready for a gut punch. This is about a highly intelligent linguistics professor (Julianne Moore), who notices that she cannot grasp the perfect word during a couple of conversations/presentations. She goes in for a diagnosis, only to be given the tragic news: it’s early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Talk about putting your problems in perspective. This is a movie where you slowly watch an incredibly clever woman’s brain slowly deteriorate, and it is heavy and affecting. Personally, this had an additional layer in that I know that there is a history of this disease in my family, and boy, did it hit home for me.
Is there a single documented case where this disease ends well?
This movie is anchored by a positively brilliant performance from Julianne Moore. She has always been a great actress, usually appearing in supporting character roles, but here, she is given a wide range of emotions to hit, as she makes her way from high functioning to barely the same person. She is front and center gives a raw performance, and I don’t think there is a surer lock at this year’s Oscars, she is going to win. Speaking as someone who has memory problems, this is scary, and you are constantly worried for the next time she is going to have a “moment”. You cringe for this woman, and it is heartbreaking at practically every turn.
I usually like to pepper in jokes for the picture commentary, but this is Alzheimer’s, what can you really say?
At its core, this is ultimately a disease movie, which is to be expected if you read the plot summary. I uttered “UGH” at least a dozen times, as there are many instances where there is a lapse of her fragile brain breaking. But like most disease movies, I have no inherent desire to ever rewatch this again, as it is not a good time, much like that cancer movie that gets released every two years. It’s hard to watch a movie that’s setting you up to feel so depressed, and while it is all very well done, you kind of know what you’re getting yourself in for, and in many different ways, I view this as this year’s Rabbit Hole. This is all about a woman trying to keep it together while ultimately resigning over to becoming an empty vessel, and if you can handle that, by all means, give this a watch for a tear-jerking performance by Moore.
Still Alice (2014) ****
– Critic for Hire