Oscar season has come and gone, but not without much acclaim and a much coveted golden statue for Julianne Moore. Best actress 2015 for her remarkable portrayal of a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Still Alice is a hugely anticipated new release film in the UK.
Moore is a fearsomely good actress with four Oscar nominations already under her belt. She was nominated for her turns in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights, Stephen Daldry's The Hours, and her heartbreaking portrayal of an emotionally repressed housewife in Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven.
Just last year she was dizzyingly demented as an ‘ageing' Hollywood actress in Cronenberg's black comedy Maps to the Stars, for which she won the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award.
In Still Alice, Moore is the eponymous Alice Howland, a linguistics professor who learns she must live with early onset Alzheimer's disease.
The rest of the cast shine. There is Alec Baldwin as Alice's husband John, who at first fiercely denies the severity of his wife's condition. Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart play sisters Anna and Lydia, giving Stewart the scope and depth of character to finally unleash her spectacular acting skills. Freed from the cartoonish clutches of the Twilight saga, Stewart has been able to reclaim her credibility as a remarkably sensitive performer, as promised by her early work in Sean Penn's Into The Wild.
Co-directors, co-writers and married couple Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland show admirable restraint in their depiction of this disease. The film’s narrative is linear, following the protagonist's journey into the unknowable, and the slow unravelling of Howland’s memory. It's a wise choice from the directors, and one that saves the audience from a disjointed representation of Alice's deteriorating mental experience. Glatzer and Westmore let their subject develop – or unravel rather– without any gimmicks, and are able to avoid working the story from the inside out.
In spite of their different relationships to Alice, the family are united in their position as observers to the disease: scared, devastated and endlessly caring. It's a vulnerability that one imagines resonates with the directors, as Glatzer suffers from ALS, a similar neurodegenerative illness to the one depicted by Moore.
The audience are invited to watch and care alongside Alice's family. With Moore's unflinchingly honest performance, there is no need for complicated flashbacks to re-build and remind the audience of the character they are appearing to lose. She is still there, still Alice.
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|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Piccadilly Circus (underground)|
|Website||Still Alice IMDB|