“Still Alice” is an Alzheimer story and Julianne Moore is huge favorite for winning the Oscar in the Female Lead Actress category for the role. That was all I knew about the movie before the beginning. After the movie ended that sentence was still the most important thing to say about everything I’ve seen.
Julianne Moore performance is great, she really acts with style and her degradation as Alzheimer patient is shown on the screen as breaking apart in fragments. However, the movie lacks some other elements that needed to be there for it to be a masterpiece. Other characters in the movie are left on the cliché level and they really don’t function well (with the possible exception of Kirsten Stewart as Lydia). Alice’s interactions with other members of the family are left superficial and I am very sorry about that. I had a feeling that Alec Baldwin is reprising the role of husband from “Blue Jasmine” and I wouldn’t be overly surprised if that role secured him the part in this movie. Kate Bosworth in the role of Anna was without heart or emotions, and her acting was awful. Every second with her on the screen was torment for me, as for the character on Alice in the picture. OK, it is possible to understand that kind of acting as the defense mechanism of the character afraid to confront herself with Alzheimer diagnose but hell you could break once in a while, scream, show something. Any emotion is better than none. Kirsten Stewart was the best part of the family. Her character was written in a way that made sense. Her acting was as good as it could be regarding screen time. Yes, Julianne Moore was dominant, but hey… Other characters are in the movie too. Other characters have trauma with Alzheimer experience too. In the last part of the movie I did get the glimpse of that trauma, but confrontation time was already over and that aspect of the movie was tasteless in that regard. All my emotions were reserved for Alice up to that point and other characters didn’t have the depth needed for me to sympathize with them. Pity, movie as an artwork could be much better if attention was given to all characters and not just to the most important one.
Dramatically, the most intense moment in the movie, when something is really at stake was the moment when I was truly pulled in. That moment ended and underdevelopment of other characters was again there, great performance by Julianne Moore just wasn’t enough. In some aspects, “Still Alice” reminded me of “Amour”, which was also a candidate for the Award. Liv Ullmann did a great job in that movie and Haneke approached the theme with much more style. Love was main theme of that movie, love was main theme of this one. In some moments, “Still Alice” felt like loosely made remake of that movie, but with no other actor capable of sharing emotions with Alice. Meryl Streep in “August Osage County”, Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”, Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”; they all had some psychological problems and deficiencies and they all had roles that were written with more attention and detail than it is the case with “Still Alice”.
All things considered, Julianne Moore will probably win the award. But for me that would not be justified. As I mentioned above, I was not convinced that her performance alone in a film that is just a solid indie-flick is worthy of the “Oscar”. Rosamund Pike and Marion Cotillard were better this year in my opinion. After “Still Alice”, if I must choose, I would give the “Oscar” to Rosamund. But I still have to watch “Wild” and – as critics suggest – great performance of Reese Witherspoon.
After all of that “Still Alice” is still recommended. It is a disturbing and emotional movie worth to watch almost solely because of Julianne Moore performance. However, it is nothing more than a solid, well made, indie-flick.