Annoyingly, Still Alice only just received a UK release despite Julianne Moore being the heavy favourite (and winner) of the Best Actress Oscar. It’s hard to imagine a film being so strongly touted for Best Actor receiving equal contempt but it seems film studios don’t consider brilliant female performances of equal worthiness. Because it’s taken so long to come out here, the general consensus seemed to state that it is a good performance, not a great film and Moore’s brilliant career meant that she was due recognition (think Scorsese for The Departed).
Still Alice actually is a wonderfully moving and authentic drama, with Moore painting a delicate, painful portrait of a woman developing a rare form of Alzheimer’s early in her life, with Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart provide admirable support as husband an daughter. It’s one of two Oscar-worthy performances Moore delivered last year, the other coming in the razor sharp, poisonous nightmare that was David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, a grossly underrated film in which Moore played a hateful, Freudian catastrophe. Her range could not be more staggering.
Based on the novel by neuroscientist Lisa Genova, Still Alice favours Alice’s point of view over her loved ones which draws you into her terrifying suffering. Alice is a linguistics professor, first realsing something might be wrong when she gets lost on a run in familiar terrain. We see her struggling to stay in control of what she always found routine, trying to adapt whilst her dexterity with language slips away. At one point, Alice records a video of herself in order to give instructions to her less aware future self. The dfiference between the two Alices is heartbreaking with Moore showing a devastating depth of emotion. This film will likely mean a lot to many viewers, a real and painful, lovingly observed accomplishment.
Review by David Rank
Still Alice is out now in the UK. Running time 101 mins. Certificate 12 (UK).