Based on Lisa Genova’s 2009 novel of the same name, Still Alice (limited release, Dec. 5) is about a college professor dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s. The film takes viewers along on the agonizing journey as the disease consumes Alice’s once brilliant mind.
In the book Alice is a psychology professor at Harvard, but in the movie, she’s a linguistics professor at Columbia. The change gives Alice’s plight an ironically cruel twist—after an impressive career as an expert on words, she has to struggle to come up with even simple ones.
Julianne Moore is sublime as Alice, deftly handling the transition from the confident professional woman to someone who has to “learn to lose.” Moore gives subtle cues to when Alice is having a lost moment—her eyes become blank or her face goes slack—and it’s even more moving when she tries to cover it up. Cowriters/-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland allow the tragedy to unfold without trying to milk it.
Alec Baldwin gives able support as Alice’s husband, but Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart are cold and lackluster, respectively, as Alice’s daughters. They both seem to love Alice but it’s not clear why the sisters aren’t kind to each other. Their sniping is tiresome. Stewart’s habit of constantly touching her hair and face is also distracting.
But Still Alice is Moore’s movie. The story might be a gut kicker but she’s captivating in every scene. Her performance is anything but forgettable.
Nerd verdict: Memorable Moore
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics