Still Alice review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
Despite its conventional start, narrative linearity and cultural bias in dealing with a global malady – Julianne Moore’s powerful, cogent performance thrusts Still Alice above all lachrymose thresholds that are hard to neglect by anyone who is not barren of sentiments and emotions.
Still Alice’s acting crew packs a solid punch, with actors Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and finally – Julianne Moore among others – delivering their most honest, sincerest portrayal of a family, albeit stereotypically American one, struck by a family member’s diagnose of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The straight narrative line is mostly prominent in the first half an hour of the movie, when Alice goes through several universally accepted denial stages of illness, such as fear, anger, grief and acceptance. There’s nothing new in the way of previous portrayals of serious conditions here, except when one witnesses the gravitas of Alice’s deteriorating condition – the sudden realization is harsh and hits almost too hard.
From there onward one cannot help but sympathize with Alice, mostly thanks to Julianne Moore’s convincing performance of a person well aware she’s losing the biggest battle of her life. At first, Alice acts arrogant toward her husband, but deep down one knows she’s afraid: she does the best to try and fight the illness as much as she can, for as long as she can do it. She knows it’s a battle that cannot be won – but continues to resist over a point where most of us would surely break.
Suddenly, the immersion is broken by a rather misplaced statement: “I wish I had cancer”. It can be justified if understood in regard to the character who speaks it, her confusion and disorientation. Any other justification and it becomes unacceptable and immensely out of place.
Also, at times, Still Alice has that infomercial vibe, which in all truth brings people affected by Alzheimer’s disease one step closer to be understood better, but again breaks the immersion set forth by Moore. Those scenes are inherently neither good nor misplaced; rather they feel like someone is reminding the general public to do a preventive screening when possible. Thankfully those scenes are few and far in-between, but still: a screening won’t hurt either.
The strongest point Still Alice makes is one that’s underdeveloped: how does it feel to witness something bad with a possibility to happen to you? The sole thinking of such undesirable outcomes evokes existential angst, and the movie breezes past it – treating it like a subject not yet worth exploring. Still – this is Alice’s life, and for what it is – it deserves one’s unprecedented attention.
To conclude, Still Alice is an emotional, powerful, freakishly real story to which anyone can relate, with an Oscar well-deserved for one of Julianne Moore’s best performances till date.