Still Alice: Alzheimer’s played out on the big screen
A first-hand experience with Alzheimer’s and reaction to the film Still Alice
Still Alice is a refreshingly honest perspective on real life issues. The film centers around Alice (Julianne Moore) as she is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Moore, supported by her husband John (Alec Baldwin) and her three children Anna (Kate Bosworth), Tom (Hunter Parrish) and Lydia (Kristen Stewart), goes through the slow and painful deterioration of her once brilliant mind.
Alice, a Columbia University professor, begins noticing symptoms of her disease while teaching, and doing normal day-to-day activities such as getting lost on campus during her daily run. The film goes through the trials and tribulations of living with the disease, as well as the burden that it can be on a family.
This movie was particularly difficult for me to watch; I knew it would be when I got to the theatre. Having an aunt who was diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia, I have seen the terrible effects this disease can have on the lives of those who suffer from the disease and to those who dedicate their lives to caring for them.
Most times when you go into a film based on a book, expectations are low, but for Still Alice, the hauntingly accurate representation of a woman living with Alzheimer’s at such a young age resonates long after leaving the theatre.
Watching Moore play the character of a woman who loses herself in her own mind was shockingly accurate to what the struggle truly is like. As I have watched my aunt deteriorate over the last several years, I found myself watching this film as if I was re-watching her life.
One particular scene that will likely bring most viewers to tears comes when Alice decides to give a speech at a convention for Alzheimer’s. Having given many speeches in her past, Alice stands at the podium a different woman than the one we had seen early in the film: she is nervous and unsure of herself. But the speech is delivered flawlessly, opening up a window into what she is dealing with and bringing the viewers into that moment with her.
The Oscar worthy performance by Julianne Moore is not one I will soon forget and it gives us a glimpse into the difficulties of being the person who has to live through this disease, as most of us will only know what it is like to care for someone living with Alzheimer’s.
Still Alice hits theatres in Calgary on Feb. 13 and is definitely one to add to your movie list; while it is not an “upper” it is worth the watch.