There is nothing more terrifying than the thought of losing one's mind. At least, that's certainly true in my case. This is potentially why 'Still Alice' is one of the most frightening yet beautiful movies so far this year.
Hugely successful Alice is a highly educated professor of linguistics. Despite having an active mind and body, she is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. The effects of this take their toll on her family of high achievers as she comes to terms - or tries to - with the way her life will in all honesty end.
With Alice played by Julianne Moore and her husband played by Alec Baldwin, it is fair to think that this could have been an alternate and horrible alternative history for Jack Donahgy and Nancy Doherty of 30 Rock fame. It is, no doubt, this chemistry that was drawn upon from both of them. But it is Moore's performance that is the real powerhouse of 'Still Alice.' The honesty and truth of this is something that simply can't be overlooked, and it's no wonder she has been nominated for an Oscar (for which she deserves to win). The honesty of the performances, also by the supporting cast, really make 'Still Alice' less of a narrow view of one woman's suffering, but a truer account of the ramifications of a horrible disease.
The writing and direction have been deftly handled by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland; nothing feels forced or contrived, just (to use the word again) honest. Structurally, 'Still Alice' starts like a regular film, and as her condition worsens the structure reflects her changing, more fleeting moments of lucidity. This only makes for an even more effective, if not tragic, story.
Having had first-hand experience at the voracity and devastating effects of this disease, 'Still Alice' packs a powerful punch. Powerful performances, powerful writing and powerful direction make for one of this year's most affecting films. Pack your tissues.