REVIEW: Still Alice | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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fourDirected by: Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland

Starring: Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin

Run Time: 101 mins

Certificate: 12A


Adapted from the novel by Lisa Genova, Still Alice is the story of Professor of Linguistics Dr Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), from first struggling with her words then to her head-on battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and ultimately her “mastering the art of losing.”

By 2025 there will be one million people living with dementia in the UK and there are currently 40,000 people living with early-onset dementia today. Knowing people who have dementia makes Still Alice a difficult watch, a pure credit to the accurate representation of the disease. The accuracy makes the film such a good platform for raising awareness of Alzhiemer’s disease, far from representing it as merely memory loss, Still Alice highlights aspects of the disease people may not be as aware of: difficulty with fine motor tasks, late night restlessness and difficulty with illusions, this attention to detail is threaded throughout the film.

It is no surprise that Moore’s role as Alice Howland won her an Academy Award for Best Actress, as her breadth of character throughout was admirable, from moments when Alice is a true fighter to a fragile woman whose illness getting the better of her.  The effect of Alzheimer’s disease on a whole family is well-represented in Still Alice. Nobody expects their 50 year old mother to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, least of all Lydia Howland (Kristen Stewart), who has a strained relationship with her mother at the best of times. From two women who can barely hold a conversation without arguing to Lydia becoming a doting daughter, their relationship brought warmth to such a sad situation.

The most important messages to take from Still Alice has to be in Dr Howland’s speech that she makes despite being at a point in her illness where she is struggling to read, a speech that took her three days to write: “This is not who we are, this is our disease…please do no think that I am suffering, I am struggling.” Someone with dementia is still a person; they have had a life and achieved amazing things. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease does not discriminate, and Alice is a brilliantly intelligent woman in the film and to watch her deterioration is heartbreaking.

Still Alice is now showing at the Tyneside Cinema.

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