Still Alice review: as moving a film as you will see this quarter

Veteran Julianne Moore gets across the cruelly gradual nature of the illness and holds firm to a character that remains tangible through the mist of forgetfulness

Chappie and Still Alice get the once-over from Donald Clarke and Tara Brady. And how are journalists portrayed by Hollywood? Video: Niamh Guckian

Julianne Moore in Still Alice, the role for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress in February

Film Title: Still Alice

Director: Richard Glatzer..., Alec Baldwin

Starring: Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 101 min

Fri, Mar 6, 2015, 07:00

   

There is much to recommend Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s study of a (scarcely) middle-aged woman’s decline from Alzheimer’s disease, but Still Alice is likely to be forever remembered as the Film For Which Julianne Moore Finally Won Her Oscar.

Moore plays a blinder. The veteran thesp manages to get across the cruelly gradual nature of the illness, and holds firm to a character that remains tangible through the mist of forgetfulness. She is playing a person, not a disease.

Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t quite live up to its central performance. Such is the concentrated mass of Moore’s black hole that it sucks gravity from all lesser satellites around it. Alec Baldwin is fine as a shallowly constructed husband who, hard as he tries, can’t quite maintain his patience. Kate Bosworth is less impressive as a tight-skinned elder IVF-minded daughter.

Kristen Stewart, playing Moore’s youngest child, fights hardest against the energy drain, but even she seems a little overshadowed.

Still Alice is unquestionably well researched and sincere in its intentions, but at times it feels a little schematic. The conversations concerning the genetic legacy of the disease feel plucked from a documentary.

As a professor of linguistics, Alice would be attuned to critical vernacular and would, thus, understand when we note that giving our Alzheimer’s patient that profession feels just a little “on the nose”. She is concerned with language – get it?

For all that, Still Alice is as moving a film as you will see this quarter. With that subject and that performance, how could it be otherwise?