This year, no one deserves the Best Actress Oscar more than Julianne Moore. No one.
Her performance in Still Alice is a haunting and utterly devastating one. Every single look (and line) is skilfully delivered, and she captures the pain and desperation of a woman suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease with the utmost subtlety. In the hands of a lesser actress, the entire film wouldn’t have been nearly as effective. But Moore? She singlehandedly elevates the movie to another level.
Still Alice is based on the 2007 novel of the same name, and while it’s quiet and small in scope, it’s enormously powerful all the same. The ramifications of Alice’s disease are showcased at an alarmingly progressive rate, and the script mines these depressing moments for all their worth. As for Alice’s family, the cast is almost uniformly strong. Although they don’t get much screen-time, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, and Kristen Stewart are all relatable as Alice’s distraught children. However, Alec Baldwin as Alice’s husband falls short of the mark. I’m not sure if we can totally blame the script, because Baldwin just isn’t likeable in the role. He’s certainly the film’s primary flaw, and he prevents the journey from being a truly perfect affair.
Interestingly enough, Still Alice is both written and directed by the married duo of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. The biggest compliment I can give the film is that I never felt there was a jarring tonal shift, as both directors create work that’s seamless and unified. They impressively manage to craft Alice’s life as an esteemed Columbia linguistics professor, and then proceed to tear it away from her (along with everything else in her life) thanks to the horrifying disease. It’s painful to see her struggle to maintain her memory while hanging on to the life that she so carefully built and nurtured.
Thanks to Julianne Moore’s exceptional performance, Still Alice is a gut-wrenching and heartbreaking film.