Film Reviews

STILL ALICE

By • Feb 6th, 2015 •

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What will Alice see when she peers into the looking glass? Perhaps, a wondrous world that Lewis Carroll created or sheer terror of fright from Clive Barker’s realm. What may seem as preposterous as literary nonsense is the all too real reality for Alice. This is the hauntingly disturbing prospect of what may be on the horizon tomorrow…hopefully never for you or I.

Julianne Moore takes on the role of Alice Howland, married mother of three living in Manhattan, hailed as a highly educated much-respected professor of linguistics at Columbia. In a household with her scientist husband (Alec Baldwin), the empty nesters gave the gift of education to their children encouraging medical and legal careers. One daughter (Kristen Stewart) pursues acting to the chagrin of her mother. The parameters are set in a world of academia for a cataclysmic catastrophe leaving Alice bereft in a soon to be existence of non-existence.

Acceptance of a debilitating disease when reaching an advanced age seems to be the norm. Denial is followed by shock when all involved are catapulted into numbness and dumbfoundedness, drowning in helplessness, when their loved one, Alice, decades from the threshold of physical and mental deterioration, must endure an unpreventable vile assault at such a young age. Unfortunately for Alice, she is fifty years old carrying a rare familial form of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

We bear witness to Alice’s concerns at the beginning. The camera’s limited focal length blurs the surroundings as Alice’s mental faculties are anything but keen at times. She plays word games to elevate her mental sharpness in desperation to circumvent any deficiencies. Burdened with anguish and no longer able to conceal her illness, the desperation is vanquished by despondency when a cure is not an option.

In THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, when Stephen Hawking learns of his ill-fate, he asks the doctor if his mind will be affected. He is relieved. Here is another person of higher learning who dedicated her life to linguistics, authoring numerous texts, lecturing around the world. This adds to Alice’s plight. This is a woman who defines herself through her work. Within a short time it will all be erased.

It’s heartbreaking to watch as a woman confronts annihilation. The loss of her family, memories, and the loss of all dignity. With physical damage, as tough a painful path it may be to endure, the brain and not the body embodies the spirit. The film’s title, STILL ALICE, is a lie. The final insult is to strip her from all faculties, from ever being Alice again.

As Alice journeys down the rapid descent into oblivion, RenĂ© Descartes, a 17th century French philosopher’s statement came to mind, “I think, therefore I am.” With Alice’s final utterance, not even capable of a syllable, she is not.

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