I don’t about you but Alzheimer’s is probably the disease that scares me the most. In her novel, Lisa Genova seemed to catch the destructive nature of the disease and Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland have managed to transfer this to the big screen in Still Alice.
The film follows Alice Howland, played absolutely brilliantly by Julianne Moore, as at the age of just 50 she develops early on-set Alzheimer’s. Alice is a linguistics expert who notices she’s forgetting things and getting lost whilst running. A few tests later show that she has a very rare form of the disease which is also hereditary.
Whilst the movie does touch on how this awful disease affects those around her, it mainly concentrates on Alice, taking away from her what, as she sees it, makes her who she is: her memories.
Moore plays the part brilliantly and Kristen Stewart as her younger daughter also shines. Alec Baldwin plays her husband who struggles to come to terms with what’s happening and he’s not shown a lot but is good when he is.
There are two elements that really stood out for me in the film. The first is something that she says very early on after the diagnoses whilst talking to her husband. She says she’d sooner have cancer as there is less stigma attached to it. People wear pink ribbons for you and you don’t feel like such an outcast. It’s a brilliant observation and something that needs to be worked hard to change.
The second is something that perhaps a lot of us have thought about. Alice prepares for her inevitable memory loss and the perceived burden she will put on her family by recording a video for herself which, depending on the outcome of some tests she sets herself on her phone, describe how she can end it all and. Of course, what she can’t count on is that first of all she loses her phone and second she can’t actually remember the instructions. It’s heart breaking to see.
This is a great film about a difficult subject. It’s done with great care but doesn’t shy away from showing how destructive this disease is.