Still Alice (2014)

Drinking Game

Do a Shot: for each heartbreaking moment

Take a Drink: to Julianne Moore’s fantastic career

Take a Drink: each time Alice forgets something

Community Review

How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Movie Review

By: Matt Conway (Three Beers) – 

Throughout her career, Julianne Moore has proven herself to be one of the most respected, and yet underrated actresses in the industry today. Moore’s resume is a long and diverse one, from dramatic epics like Children of Men to romantic comedies like Crazy, Stupid, Love. Moore has a knack for picking interesting projects, with almost all of the films she has been involved in having some merit. Julianne Moore also seems to be one of the more stand-up actresses in the biz, with a humble demeanor about her career and speaking out for important issues like gay rights.

Seems Carrie may be Moore's lone exception.
Seems Carrie may be Moore’s lone exception.

Despite having a great deal of success, Moore has yet to receive the big awards recognition one would expect. She has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including two nominations in 2002 for The Hours and Far from Heaven. Despite the impressive amount of nominations, Moore has yet to win, and has also gotten snubbed for great roles in The Kids Are Alright and A Single Man. Her latest film, Still Alice, may not be one of her best films, but it’s a good-enough film that proves to be the ultimate acting showcase for Moore.

Still Alice follows Alice Howland, a happily married parent of three and a successful professor of linguistics. Her life turns upside down when she discovers she has rare early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

A Toast

This seems to be Julianne Moore’s year for the Oscar, and for good reason. Moore’s performance is certainly one of the year’s best, and is the main reason that this film is worth watching from start to finish. While a lot of the most talked about performances of the year are showy performances, Moore’s performance is one of a subtle change throughout the film. She starts out as a solid and steady mother, but as she is diagnosed with the disease, she begins to quickly crumble.

Overacts like crazy, still gets nominated
Overacts like crazy, still gets nominated

Moore and the film in general captures Alzheimer’s disease with a gentle honesty. Moore’s character never overacts or makes her character unnecessarily grand, which makes her slow descent into the disease even more heartbreaking. The few times Moore’s character screams out are shocking and heartbreaking, and since they are done only occasionally the moments are made even more powerful.

The supporting cast also does a rather solid job in their respective roles. Alec Baldwin is mostly known for his comedic roles, but does a good job as Alice’s steady husband John. The true standout in the supporting cast is Kristin Stewart, who after Camp X-Ray and now this is building up her resume as a solid actress. Alice and Stewart’s Lydia have perhaps the most developed relationship of the film, as the two butt heads before her disease, but begin to connect after her diagnosis. Both Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish are also solid in their respective roles.

Still missing Jack Donaghy...
Still missing Jack Donaghy…

As a whole, the script is quite good. Both Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland have been making independent films for a decade now, and it seems like this script comes from an honest place. Recently, Gltazer was sadly diagnosed with ALS, and it’s evident that Glatzer has thrown some of his experiences of being diagnosed with a major disease into creating the honest and heartbreaking depiction that the film presents.

Beer Two

While the supporting cast is quite good in their respective roles, most of the side characters have very little to do. Baldwin as John gets to show a lot of promise in his role, but is just essentially relegated to being a caretaker with no real personality. This is also the case for both Bosworth and Parrish’s characters, who despite being Alice’s children, essentially have only a few minor scenes in the film. A certain twist near the middle of the film could have made for an interesting dynamic between Bosworth’s character and Alice, but she instead has nothing to do.

Both Glatzer and Westmoreland do a solid job as writers here, but the direction is far too conservative. Still Alice is directed almost like a TV movie, with almost no visual flair and a very mundane look. Both the score and cinematography lack any sort of inspiration, creating an overall banal look. Sure, Still Alice is the kind of movie that should not be trying to reinvent the wheel visually, but it seems like the duo directing the film just played it too safe.

Perhaps this is would not fit the film either.
Perhaps this is would not fit the film either.

Beer Three 

Detracting from Still Alice the most are the film’s final moments, which feel more melodramatic and less like the honest drama the film was beforehand. This especially left a sour taste in my mouth, as it ends the film on a somewhat open and disappointing note. Like the direction, these melodramatic moments feel almost TV film-esque.

Verdict

While Still Alice stumbles dramatically at a few points, it’s an honest depiction of Alzheimer’s disease, hammered in by Julianne Moore’s fantastic leading performance. The buzz at this point is currently pointing to her winning her first ever Oscar, and that buzz is very much deserved.

About Matt Conway

I love movies and sports and run on sentences. You can find me at a basketball court, the local theater, or napping on a couch somewhere.

2 comments

  1. Going to try and catch this, mainly for Moore’s performance, and see how it stacks up against Ms. Witherspoon’s. I’m not excited for the TV movie vibe, but I’m a glutton for punishment.

    • I think most people who watch the film will like it, but I dont think there will be a lot of people who love it. Moore’s fantastic pefromances overshadows the film a bit. As for the Best Actress race, it seems down to Witherspoon and Moore, I am personally rooting for Moore due to the fact she has not won before.

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