Humane and sympathetic but otherwise unremarkable, Still Alice charts the sea of sorrow left in the wake of a heralded linguistics professor’s (Julianne Moore) Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Having made an extraordinary life for herself through the love of language, frustrations steam to a boil as Alice’s growing inability to retain the simplest of memories spills over into all aspects of her life. With the care of an unfathomably loving family, the bonds between husband, wife, mother and daughter are tested as the condition worsens to the chagrin of all irrevocably invested in her plight.
Uncertainty scares the shit out of me. Not just living day-to-day under some self-enforced philosophy, no – I’m talking about the fact that the rug can be unceremoniously yanked out from under you at any moment, in any capacity. Whether its heredity rearing its bastard head like in Alice’s case or something else entirely, no one can accurately predict how they and their support group will take the initial blow and persevere. This is where Still Alice thrives in the realm of plausible humanism, the script instead opting for a logical progression of Alice’s disease in a way that dishevels her and the otherwise structured futures of her equally successful husband and daughters.
Whether or not viewers’ perceive the character’s more helpless moments as cloying or melodramatic is a bit tom-ay-to or tom-ah-to, what with an obvious instinct to sympathize with Alice forcing us to do that – and only that – as the hits keep coming. Thankfully, Moore’s committed performance elevates the bleak and foreseeable aspects of base-level drama to a forgivable stature, thus transforming Still Alice into an entirely character-driven affair that’s appropriately devoid of complexity.
Despite the obviousness of its intentions and projected emotionality, Glatzer and Westmoreland’s sensitive illustration of the fallout stemming from core tragedy makes for an agreeably involving affair. Predictably uncomplicated as authentic humanistic beats permeate its entirety, Still Alice will likely strike a chord with viewers to varying degrees. After all, tragedy is tragedy, and although devastating and irreversible, what this film aims to demonstrate is a family unit’s undying devotion to the remarkable matriarch that would do the same for them in a time of need.