You should also then know that as an admirer of hers, any performance that she puts in front of me, I’m going to be a bit tougher on. I expect greatness from her because that’s generally what she gives.
So here we go…..
Some films in the introductory scene try to drub you over the head. Some of them try to calmly pull you in and gain your attention that way. And others sort of don’t really know what they’re doing and sort of just throw something on screen and hope you’ll figure it out!
Still Alice, IMO is a mixture of the three! (I know right?) The thing is, as strange as that sounds, IT WORKS. You are drawn to Alice and you immediately empathise with her situation, although you may have NO idea what it is at the time! You instinctively are aware that something is wrong.
Those of you who are or are not fans of the Twilight series are no doubt very well acquainted with Kristen Stewart. The great thing here is, this is far and away NOT the Kristen we’re used to!!!
There’s enough flexibility in the Still Alice screenplay to ACTUALLY allow this dynamic young starlet the ability to shine. There’s so much emotion, anger and angst, but it doesn’t take away from her scenes with Julianne at all!
In fact, everything, including her facial expressions, PLAY NICE together! Genuinely entertaining and you find yourself warmed up to the reality that Lydia (Kristen Stewart) and Alice (Julianne Moore) are going to need each other more NOW than ever, and because of the connection between the two, you’re THRILLED about that!!
Let me pause here for a moment because, I need for people to know something. A realisation that it literally took me TWO viewings of this film to gain an understanding of. I must admit when I first realised it, I questioned my faculties (ironic, I know) momentarily.
I did I know but…Alec Baldwin does NOT get enough credit for the very strong performance he put into this role! Why?!?! Because he’s the poor step standing next to Julianne Moore (who is now the OSCAR WINNING Julianne Moore)!!!
We must remember that a husband who finds himself in such a dire situation with a woman whom has been his true helpmate, has options. He can leave, abandon you if you will. He can continually be in a state of denial. He can even start out gung-ho and then diminish, knowing that as the situation becomes more dire, it gets tougher.
I get the feeling that Alec would NOT have taken the role if his character had been slated to do ANY of those three! Why?!?! Simply put because it’s so much more challenging, so much more natural, so much more of the requirements of a STRONGER male protagonist to DO THE RIGHT THING.
Not only do we feel him and the choices he makes EVERY step of the way, but we also feel empathetic when the seeds of doubt creep like vines as he is forced to make the decisions he HAS to in order to take care of his beloved wife the best way he knows how, all while being a solid role model to his ever-growing close family.
Their interactions are GENUINE. There is a solid chemistry there between these two and every emotional change, every peak and valley they experience is indeed a joint venture.
Now, For What Does NOT Work:
Well there isn’t much. HOWEVER, I do have two things. The passage of time for an Alzheimer’s patient is something of such importance. There are dates everywhere, calendars, reminders, etc. And while Alice has those things, she mostly creates them for herself which isn’t really realistic in memory care.
Between doctors and in home care providers, memory aids are available serving as a joint venture between patient and caregivers. I felt like they didn’t make it a priority to include Alice’s caregivers in these types of situations, so you get a sense that she’s doing all this by herself when it’s legitimately NOT possible that she is.
Another issue I have regarding the passage of time; we don’t have any markers to give us a sense of just how rapidly what’s happening to Alice is occurring. There are markers AROUND her, but none in her immediate personal circle (aging, etc.) that give us a sense of just how much longer we have, before she completely loses herself. It’s not there, and I feel like for more people to understand that, we needed that.
And while Alice loves all of her three children, we don’t get clear links, connections so to speak, between Alice and her other two children. The interactions are just not there. They happen, make no mistake, but clearly they’re not as strong and we don’t gain a clear understanding as to WHY.
That being said, I believe this to be Julianne, Kristen, and Alec Baldwin’s finest performances to date and absolutely call this film a #MUSTSEE!!!
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Copyright ©2014 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl™, The Swirl World™, The Swirl World Podcast™, All rights reserved. Photo of Joyll Cambridge used with permission. Movie poster from the movie Still Alice obtained from Wikipedia.