With Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth.
In Still Alice, Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) discovers that she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As a brilliant scholar who studies linguistics, her struggle to find the right word becomes especially poignant. Her family, including daughters Anna (Kate Bosworth) and Lydia (Kristen Stewart) and son Tom (Hunter Parrish) grapple with how to include this horribly altered person in their lives. Anna is expecting a baby, and when Alice learns that her early disease is genetically transferable, you can feel the guilt and blame on both sides. Watching Alice deteriorate in chronological fashion means we witness her lose the ability to remember, reason, perform her job, care for herself, plan for the future, and participate in decisions, especially when it comes to her own life.
Not that the movie is all downbeat. There are moments when Alice prevails. She has lived a successful life up to the point of her diagnosis. I kept waiting for someone to say, she is still Alice, but no one did. As she lost her ability to think, slowly and surely, she was not herself any more. This is the horrible side of Alzheimers. The person resembles the original, but is not really resident anymore. So much of one’s identity is tied up in the past, especially memories of your personal history.
I enjoyed Alice’s scenes with Lydia, an aspiring actress, because Lydia takes great effort to learn how to be with an Alzheimer’s afflicted person. It is akin to but not the same as learning a new language. Watching so many Oscar-minded movies in a row, I am struck by how a star turn can reveal another actor just as strong even if he is not nominated. Like Miles Teller in Whiplash, Kristen Stewart deserves a lot of credit for bolstering the performance of her co-star.
Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore