Still Alice PosterThe reason to see Still Alice, and you really should, is Julianne Moore. She just won an Academy Award for her beautiful and heartbreaking performance as Alice Howland, a successful linguistics professor with a loving husband and several grown children who is stunned to find that she is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. It is the story of her trying to keep it together even though she knows what is coming, and her family trying its best to take care of her as she disappears before their eyes. Alec Baldwin plays the husband who is as helpless as Alice against the disease, but tries to make her diminishing world as livable has he can. And Kristen Stewart is remarkably competent as her youngest daughter, a would-be actress who turns out to be the one who can help her Mom when she needs it most.

The film begins by showing you that Alice has a wonderful, close family and a great job at Columbia University and a beautiful apartment in the City, but just as her perfect life seems too good to be true, the cracks begin. She gets temporarily lost when she is out for a run, then she can’t remember a word here or a person there. And as a person whose profession is all about words, and who has never been at a loss for them, she knows something is wrong. When she gets the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, she knows that the person she has always been is going away from her. In the early stages, she even wishes she had cancer instead. Kristen126404_ori

Still Alice is a heartbreaking picture of what families go through with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The person with the disease knows they’re losing it and where they are going, and the family and loved ones know they can only watch them fade away. I’ve had too many people in my life who have lost parents to the disease. Knowing that that is your future has got to be sheer torture. Julianne Moore and the actors who portray her family get it perfectly. And it is tragic. It is a depressing film and you’ll probably want to bring some tissues, but you really should see it.

Hannah’s (aka Mainstream Chick’s) perspective:

I agree with Arty Chick on this one. Still Alice is definitely worth seeing – at some point. It’s hard to dedicate a time to see a movie that you know will be scary and depressing, no matter how good the performances. So put this into the Netflix queue, attend a special screening, or consider renting or streaming it when you’re ready to take the plunge.

Oscar-winner Julianne Moore gives an Oscar-worthy performance. Alec Baldwin is quietly compelling as her husband. And (forever known as Twilight’s) Kristen Stewart truly delivers the goods as Alice’s youngest daughter who develops perhaps a deeper connection with her mother post-diagnosis.

I was surprised to discover that Still Alice is based on a book of fiction, not a true story or person. That makes its feeling of authenticity all the more remarkable.

It also brings to mind a recent documentary that provides a worthy alternative or complement to Still Alice.
Glen Campbell… I’ll be Me is a bit too long, but it serves the filmmakers’ agenda well – and that’s to raise awareness about the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s and the need to pour more resources into finding a cure. The music-filled documentary follows the journey of the country music legend as he and his family and friends deal with the diagnosis and hit the road on a farewell tour. It was a last hurrah for a guy who couldn’t always remember his kids’ names or what day it was, but could still pick a mean guitar and belt out the lyrics to “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Wichita Lineman”. The documentary, including the Oscar-nominated original song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, is a powerful ode to the man, his music and his memory. (see below)

And after seeing one or both of these films, you might want to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Organization to help find a cure.

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