Still Alice15 Feb 2015
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this film. The trailer was pretty flat, I didn’t think the story arc would do much more than just explore the sadness a family experiences when dealing with illness. But Julianne Moore, almost single-handedly, lifted this film up into a much higher category.
I’m very glad Julianne Moore is a part of contemporary cinema as I’ve come of age. She’s shown up in so many of my favorite films, commercial, cult, independent, and in so many genres. Her turns in films as diverse as Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski, The Lost World, The Kids are Alright and now Still Alice are a testament to her commitment to acting. She takes her work very seriously, but has never betrayed a cold, professional distance from her characters. I think someone like Daniel Day Lewis also takes his work as seriously, but the warmth that Moore provides again and again is lacking from Lewis’ oeuvre. It would make me very happy to see her received the awards and accolades she’s earned.
Although my taste usually bend toward the cerebral, and Still Alice never really challenged me in that way, I found myself getting teary eyed more than once. I connected strongly with Alice and John, their lives and careers. They are both academics, although more the white collar kind, not exactly intellectuals. I’m not an academic, but I do aspire to a learned life like theirs. In one scene, when Alice’s doctor claims that highly educated patients of Alzheimer’s often experience worse symptoms, I found myself thinking about my choices now. I spend so much time reading, learning, expanding my knowledge about the world. What if I pay that cost later in my life? What if there are consequences I’m not even considering. I’m sure I was just getting caught up in the emotions of the film, but it is something I’ve considered once or twice before - because I can see how flooding my brain with information constantly can lead to a lasting confused state.
I wouldn’t say this was the best written or directed film of the year. But I think it very much deserves the praise it’s receiving.