Still Alice: Film Review
Cast: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth
Director: Richard Glatzer
With Golden Globe success for Julianne Moore and a warning that Still Alice was likely to crumble even the hardest of facades, the adaptation of Lisa Genova's book had a lot to live upto.
Sadly, it plays out like a TV Movie of the week with every emotional mawkish moment milked for effect.
Moore plays Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor who finds she's forgetting words during a presentation and teaching. Perturbed by this turn of events, Alice visits a neurologist who surmises that she has early onset Alzheimers and in a tragic turn of events, this disease is a rare familial strain that can be passed on.
As Alice struggles to deal with this and the implications, her family try to come to terms with what's playing out before them - and the inevitability of what lies ahead.
Still Alice has an impressive performance from Moore, whose Alice is really a study in understatement and whose fight is subtly and effectively brought to light and life by the simplest of deliveries.
But the problem is that Still Alice isn't content with letting the true tragedy of what's ahead shape the outcome; it needs to push, prod and provoke through an overly bombastic piano soundtrack that feels formulaic, as well as guilty of pulling on your heart strings.
In Moore's finest moment, the actress is supposed to be extolling the virtues of living with a debilitating disease but the tide of emotion which is intended to sweep you off your feet is derailed by a torrent of piano music twinkling and swelling underneath, leaving you feeling manipulated and hollow.
Equally, some of the more fascinating elements of the film are underdeveloped; potential tension with her husband (solidly played by Baldwin) becomes easily melodramatic - and the fact one daughter chooses to go ahead with a birth despite there being a high chance the disease could be passed on is swept under the carpet, a dramatic morsel left to wither and die by the wayside.
While Still Alice brings out the best in Moore and gives her predicament a relatability that's dire and devastating, the formulaic beats and predictable patter of the movie leaves you feeling very little (regardless of how cynical you may be), derails Moore's work by grounding it in the overtly simplistic and sentimental and that you've simply seen a TV movie up on the big screen.