“The film Still Alice doesn’t so much progress as fade away, leaving only the memory of its central performance intact.”

stillaliceThe Wife and I saw the movie Still Alice the Saturday after Julianne Moore won the Best Actress Oscar.

I didn’t see the other nominees in the category, save for Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, but she was fine. Great, actually, as linguistics professor Alice Howland, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alec Baldwin plays her husband John, somewhat self-absorbed with his own academic career; Baldwin’s played this type of character before.

Kate Bosworth is the annoying married daughter Anna. The guys playing her brother and her husband were mostly ciphers because they didn’t have that much to do.

The key family relationship is between Alice and her youngest daughter, an aspiring actress named Lydia (good name, that), played by Kirsten Stewart. I had NEVER seen her in any movie. The Twilight series actress was surprisingly not bad, though, as a friend of mine who happened to attend the same showing, she has a tendency to mumble.

Weeks later, I’m still trying to figure out why this movie, based on a book I have not read, felt a bit distant to me. I’m not sure, but here are some observations:

*There’s a scene that is out of focus, save for Alice. I KNOW it was showing her feeling disorientated, but it LOOKED as though perhaps she was going blind, and that was a distraction.

*Perhaps the emotional center was a speech, which came more or less in the middle of the movie, a time I actually teared up.

*The bathroom scene at the summer house was the most painful.

*The scene involving the video of Alice’s younger self almost played as a very dark comedy.

*The family, save for Lydia, seemed so shiny and put together.

This Spectator review says it better than I:

“The film doesn’t so much progress as fade away, leaving only the memory of its central performance intact. Still Alice thus joins a growing band of movies… which seem plucked into existence solely to fatten up a single performance for awards season, while everyone else — the rest of the cast, director, crew — goes on a starvation diet. The people around Alice are sketches.”

My mother had some sort of dementia in the months before she died, and of course, the disease manifests itself in many different ways. She was far older than Alice, not as well educated, not as self-aware. All of that probably colors the movie for me as well.

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