Thursday, January 29, 2015

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "Still Alice" (2014)

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Movie"Still Alice"
Director: Richard Glazer & Wash Westmoreland
Year: 2014
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

When a university linguistics professor named Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease, her whole life comes crashing down. She goes from someone at the top of her field to becoming confused and lost as more and more of her mind slips away. She and her family must learn to deal with her new disease and all that comes with it. 

Julianne Moore is considered the front-runner for Best Actress going into the Academy Awards this year for her role as Alice in this film. She has already won the Golden Globe and a slew of other awards, so her chances look good. This is also one of the most depressing roles of the year, which for actresses, more often than not means Oscar gold. When we say depressing, we mean it. There are no mincing words and there isn't much silver lining here. The entire movie consists of simply watching a once brilliant woman sink further and further into dementia. This film hits us especially close to home as BigJ's grandmother suffered from Alzheimer's disease later in life. Watching her decline was very, very hard, one of the hardest things we have had to deal with. A disease like this is not just hard on the person suffering from it, but also on those around them as well. After her husband passed away, BigJ's grandmother slowly slipped into her illness, and we don't know if she ever truly 100% knew that she had Alzheimer's disease. What started as simply forgetting appointments and the placement of objects slowly over the course of the next six years turned into forgetting people and how to care for herself. The difference with her illness and Alice's is that Alice's happened much quicker as she had familial early onset Alzheimer's, which is quite rare. This film does a good job of showing not just Alice's progression with the illness, but how her family is impacted by it, too. Some people may write her closest relatives off as selfish, but we do understand their troubles, as well as Alice's. Eventually, those affected by the illness even stop knowing you exist. Those suffering can't watch TV or movies, or even enjoy reading books because they can't understand fully what is going on. They often cannot remember how the story began or any of the characters by the time they are at the end.

The only word to describe how we felt after watching this movie is heavy. We felt a heavy sorrow in our hearts for remembering BigJ's grandma and how badly she deteriorated over the years. We felt heavy from the tears we cried together after watching this movie. A deep heaviness that won't go away anytime soon that reminded us not to take life for granted. We believe that, while Julianne Moore does do a fantastic job displaying all these qualities in the film, and she is definitely one of the top female performances this past year, we still favor the performance of Rosamund Pike in "Gone Girl" much better. Unfortunately, unlike Pike, who was in a widely successful movie, "Still Alice" will not be seen by nearly enough people as it only received a limited release. Overall, the film itself is just okay, bordering on being Lifetime-esque, but is certainly bolstered by an outstanding leading performance. Kristen Stewart can still go to hell, though.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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