Movie Review: Still Alice

imageIn adapting a popular novel to film, writer/directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland brought one thing and one thing only to the table: Julianne Moore, and her lead performance in Still Alice (C+) is head and shoulders above the material and all other performers. As a 50-year-old linguistics professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, Moore is often downright heartbreaking. Her character first tries to out-game the disease and ultimately succumbs to it and gets monologues and speeches and rants and quiet conversations to work out her bouts with sadness and joy in the rich life she has lived. The directors can’t quite lift the material above a “disease of the week movie” feel, and they get no help from near-blowhard Alec Baldwin, whiny Kristen Stewart, vacant Hunter Parrish and frosty Kate Bosworth as Alice’s “loving family.” The air of melancholy over the proceedings is punctuated by a very limited selection of punchy moments, one of which involves a message from Alice’s past self to her future one. There are some accurate and affecting medical revelations as the film unfolds, except the occasional soft lighting that attempts to explain disorientation but somehow seems more like a character going slightly blind. There are also allusions intended to give literary context to the proceedings, but the metaphors are muddled. What’s left is a triumphant Moore, out-acting everyone else and out-emoting the material. She chews the bland scenery with aplomb. She’s nearly always amazing, and her Oscar will be a lifetime achievement award, and this film may go down as a very sincere but unremarkable public service announcement.