The Reel

The Reel: Oscar Winning Performance In Still Alice


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Note: This critic contains spoilers

Dr. Alice Howland (Julianne Moore who won a 2015 Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role) is a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University. When words begin to escape her and she starts becoming lost on her daily jogs, Alice must come face-to-face with a devastating diagnosis: early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. As the once-vibrant woman struggles to hang on to her sense of self for as long as possible, Alice’s three grown children must watch helplessly as their mother disappears more and more with each passing day.

The movie opens up by showing us the most important things in Alice’s life- in no specific order-, her family which includes her husband John played by Alec Baldwin, her eldest daughter Anna played by Kate Bosworth, her son, and her other daughter played by Kristen Stewart. Yes Kristen Stewart! I have no emotion range, Kristen Stewart! When she appeared on the screen I thought “What the heck! What is this horrible actress doing working along with Julianne Moore?! Did the directors go temporarily crazy? Oh I’m sure she’ll ruin this all movie for me. Oh Gosh, I want to leave the theater NOW!” This should give you an insight on my opinion on Stewart’s acting. She sucks. Period! She’s ruins every movie she’s been in. Period. But I couldn’t leave so I mentally told myself not to be bias. After all it’s a Julianne Moore movie. I had to trust in Julianne Moore’s judgement. Moving on to the movie. Alice is a linguistic professor, and she identifies herself as such.

Outside of work you see Alice playing Words with Friends, and training herself on remembering words when she’s in the kitchen (on her spare time). What she does and her ability of being good with words is her identity. Anna is a lawyer and she’s mean and she’s not a nice person. Kristen Stewart is the rebel child- BIG Surprise! NOT – who decided to go live on the other side of the country in California, to drop out of school and pursue her acting career. Let’s not worry about her son.

In the beginning of the movie, you see Alice starting¬† to struggle with words, starting to lose her memory in a very subtle way. But to the audience it’s obvious that it’s the beginning of her illness even thought she doesn’t know what’s going on. She eventually goes to the doctor, get diagnostic with early on set Alzheimer at her young age. Then she struggles on telling the news to her family. Everyone takes it differently. I’m not going to go into too many details, but Anna remains to be “not a nice person”. The rest of the movie shows in detailed how Alice’s health deteriorates. There are key moments like the time she gives her speech, or the time she lets her boss know about her condition, and the time she records an instructions video for her future sick self and her future sick self finds the video but is too ill to even comprehend anything on the video. You see her going from this “intellectual” person who prides herself on her ability to manipulate the English language to this person who is struggling to find the simplest words to say, someone whose identity has been taken away.

Alzheimer is a horrible disease on ANYBODY! But imagine a pro athlete being told that they can no longer not only play pro, but never exercise again. A pro athlete or a very active person finding themselves in a wheelchair overnight. Or anyone who has trained so hard to master a craft to find out that they would eventually start loosing all of it in a matter of month.

Alice’s journey is filled with heartbreaking moments and bravery, however we all know how everything is going to end no matter the amount of bravery and fight she displays. There were two surprising elements in this movie for me. The role her husband plays as a supporting husband was very disappointing to me. I won’t say more about it. However Kristen Stewart SURPRISED ME. Her character is first introduced to us as a the awkward distant family member, but she slowly and surely moves to the foreground to become one of the most supporting system for her mother. In that process she somehow sheds off her awkwardness. if Steward was a one in my book before, she surely moved up to a 3. It’s not much, but it’s progress, and you can never knock someone down for making progress. I hope she sees that and continues on that progress path.

Still Alice is not on Netflix it is playing in a few selected theater.

Questions:

What do you pride yourself on? What is your Still Alice?

If that was taken away from you how would you feel?

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