Still Alice is based on the bestselling book by Lisa Genova. It follows the story of Alice (Julianne Moore), a loving wife and mother who, soon after her fiftieth birthday, begins to suspect that she has something wrong with her. She goes in to see a neurologist (Stephen Kunken) who informs Alice that she is in the early stages of Alzheimers disease, which as you're probably aware, slowly begins to induce memory loss. As the disease worsens, Alice's family are forced into a rather tricky situation where they must try to come together and help get her through this rough patch in her life.
Julianne Moore has never been better, and I honestly mean that. It's a bold statement to make seeings as how she's given countless extraordinary performances, I know, but I think I mean it. I may not have seen Magnolia as of right now, so this statement may change, but Still Alice may just be her greatest performance yet. It's a heartbreaking movie and in large, it's thanks to Moore. She elevates this film to a whole other level. A level I don't think any other actor could've taken it to.
Still Alice is a film so full of emotion, it's unbelievable. How a movie can be this emotional, yet still be thoroughly entertaining, I will never know, but hey, I'm not complaining. It's a character driven movie and you care for these characters, so when bad things start happening, it's difficult to watch. It's painful to see Alice go through these things, but that's not even the worst part. The worst part is that you know this is only the beginning. You know she's got a long way to go.
This is going to sound like a rather odd point to make, I know, but the fact that it's told through Alice's perspective adds to the overall heartbreak. Hold on, let me explain. In the film, we see everything through Alice's eyes and we hear everything through her ears. If she says something didn't happen, it didn't happen. We didn't see it happen either. If she says she was looking for her phone last night, we think she was looking for her phone last night, only to be confronted by Alec Baldwin saying that that was a month a go. It's difficult to explain, but it's a point worth making, and when you see the film, you'll understand where I'm coming from... hopefully.
The only real problem with this film is that I didn't feel there was enough story to go around. Still Alice feels like it's more of a character study of a woman with Alzheimers than a narrative based plot and while I have absolutely no problem with character studies, the film's opening act didn't really set the film up to be so. It set the film up to have a traditional narrative, yet this is just pushed out of the window. The biggest downfall of deviating from the narrative structure is the ending, which ends rather abruptly and displeasing.
To sum up, Still Alice features what could possibly be Julianne Moore's best performance to date, the film is held together by a strong emotional thread and is edited together brilliantly, even if there's not quite enough story to go around.
3 1/2 Stars