Rarely does a film come along that handles such a tender, difficult, almost unapproachable subject with such grace, conviction and authenticity. I’ve noticed films of such a delicate nature are too often heavy-handed and overly dramatised, so I breathed a sigh of relief in the cinema today after viewing Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s heartrendingly realistic and understated depiction of Alzheimer’s disease in Still Alice.
This is the first Julianne Moore film I’ve seen and I hope it will be the first of many more to come. The woman is a goddess. Her performance as the titular character was truly mesmerising, and demonstrated true dedication to the role in terms of the research she evidently carried out to be able to portray both Alice and her disease so convincingly. Never before have I witnessed such raw, unabashed emotion being displayed amongst a cinema audience; the tears shed throughout the film’s duration were a true testament to Moore’s Oscar-winning performance.
Still Alice’s poignant subject matter was complemented beautifully by the film’s exquisite visuals, with the peaceful, nature-orientated sets adding to the introspective tone the film exhibited. The cinematography was also highly effective: the shaky, unfocused camera shots were hugely successful in encapsulating the confusion, frustration and uncertainty which accompanies Alice’s quickly progressing memory loss. A pioneering Linguistics professor at Columbia University, the rapid deterioration of Alice’s intellect is deeply distressing to watch, particularly having studied Linguistics myself at university and developed a fascination with the beauty and artistry of language and communication.
Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart’s performances were also highly commendable, both of them depicting refreshingly realistic characters and the web of emotions which would inevitably present themselves in a situation such as this. Tensions which arise within the family are captured expertly through meandering conversations and excellent onscreen chemistry between cast members. Upon reflection, there is no single scene which stands out to me as climactic; instead the entire film studies the tests which face Alice and her family as her condition worsens with painstaking attention to detail, from the very outset. Its steady, continuous pace is what makes it so real, to the point where the viewing experience could almost simply be a window into the life of an actual Alzheimer’s sufferer. Moore’s performance is simply masterful, and not to be missed.
Words by Georgia Welch