STILL ALICE gave one of our best actresses, Julianne Moore, a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar after a quarter-century of exemplary performances that had already netted her four previous nominations. She aced this win against some witheringly stiff competition, including Reese Witherspoon’s complete immersion into Wild and captivating newcomer Felicity Jones in The Theory Of Everything.
‘Alice’ is a brilliant, middle-aged linguistics professor, with a stellar career, loving husband and great kids. Sudden onset Alzheimer’s burns into her contented world. We can all relate, in that everyone knows someone who had or has it, and current odds and projections are not looking terribly comforting for those who don’t. There have been other film portrayals of the diseases effects, including top-quality works like Away From Her and Iris; this 2014 story could stand against any, as directed & written by the team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, coming back strong from their flawed and unsuccessful Errol Flynn/Kevin Kline period piece, The Last Of Robin Hood.
Aside from the behind-camera smoothness, there is nicely understated work from others in the cast—Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish, with a surprising—and welcome— turn from the much-maligned Kristen Stewart. The movie doesn’t devolve into standard histrionics, but keeps its tone in check, which serves to heighten the poignancy and chill, and do some realistic honor to the valor shown by Moore’s character. Beyond and past the admirable fighting spirit, all the confusion, peev, panic, and dawning reality come across in every choice the actress makes. The eyes have it. Hats off, Ms. Moore.
Brought in on a tight $5,000,000, the 101-minute film brought back a rewarding $42,000,000 to go with the strong reviews and Moore’s Oscar, though sadly, director Glatzer succumbed to ALS, at 63, two weeks after his leading lady took home her trophy.