Still Alice

(USA 2014)

Julianne Moore is on a roll, and Still Alice keeps her rolling with one woman’s losing battle against a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Taking a more subtle approach to its subject matter, Still Alice is often difficult to watch even if it isn’t heavy-handed. Episodes of Alice, for example, repeating the same conversation to her son’s date at a holiday meal she prepared, getting lost jogging, wetting her pants because she forgets where the bathroom is, and making a video on her laptop instructing her future self, step by step, how how to commit suicide have an increasingly gnawing, foreboding effect as they pile up. The denouement, however, is restrained: the ending is as subtle and quiet as the rest of the film.

Moore is brilliant, taking us with her as both mind and body break down before our very eyes. She gives a wow performance that evokes sympathy and empathy. Still Alice is so clearly her Oscar stab, with a built-in standing ovation– after Alice lectures about memory at a conference and forgets what she was saying. Alec Baldwin as her husband plays an asshole, a role he has perfected. Like the story itself, though, he plays it with a subtle touch. Ironically or not, he’s totally forgettable here. So are her kids (Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, and Kristen Stewart, though the last has a few shining moments). A more apt title might have been All About Alice.

(AMC River East) A

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