STARRING: Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth
DIRECTORS: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
THE SKINNY: Alice (Moore) is a professor of linguistics who learns that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Little by little, her memory begins to worsen. Moore’s husband (Baldwin) is supportive, but she concocts a plan to commit suicide should she become too much of a burden. Meanwhile, her relationship with her actress-daughter (Stewart) deepens.
THE CONSENSUS: Guys and girls will appreciate this human story about overcoming tragedy calmly.
Movies about diseases are terrible.
It's a cheap, easy way for storytellers to get sympathy for their characters.
That said, this particular sick flick is affecting by the end.
The thing that really makes Still Alice work for me is that it doesn't wallow in the misery of the situation.
The directors aren't out to jerk your tears.
In fact, it shows us that a life of diminished capacity is still a life worth living, with its own moments of beauty and wonder.
As Alice's mind deteriorates and she's forced to slow down, she never becomes less of a human being.
I'm assuming that's why they called the film Still Alice.
Another one of the film's main themes is that chill people are invaluable in this cruel world.
Alice's high-flying husband and eldest daughter (Bosworth) are not equipped to deal with her situation.
On the other hand, her slacker daughter is down for whatever - and the slow-eyed, slouchy Stewart is the perfect person to play such a character.
She gets a lot of flak for some reason, but I can't think of anyone her age who's better at just existing on screen, unhurried and unworried.
Moore and Stewart share a soft, gentle chemistry that elevates the material far beyond what it might have been.
I don't think anyone can understand what an Alzheimer's patient goes through.
And that's why Moore's performance is even more gut-wrenching.
For someone who prides herself as a walking lexicon to becoming a person who can't speak coherently, this year's Best Actress Oscar front runner captures all the fears, frustrations and finality well.
And because the disease is genetic, there's also the pain and guilt that Alice has to cope with, over the possibility that her children will also suffer a similar fate. Moore brings out those heartbreaking moments beautifully too.
She sets the tone right from the start. She doesn't want your pity or help.
This is a woman in full control of all aspects of her life, and she wants to go out with her dignity intact.
But just as Moore's credibility is always spot on, what's surprising here is Stewart, who's likeable and convincing as the rebellious baby of the family.
While the other cast members - Baldwin, Bosworth and Hunter Parrish - deliver subtle yet strong performances, the moments between Moore and Stewart are the most touching and grounded.
The supporting characters may be underdeveloped, but this is Moore's movie after all.
She's truly deserving of all the accolades during this year's awards season.