Movie poster for ‘Still Alice.’ Courtesy/Reel Deal Theater
“Still Alice” is a brave film that will haunt you. True to the book on which it is based, the film takes a respectful but honest look at how it feels to get Alzheimers. What makes the story different is that it is told from the perspective of the one diagnosed.
As we watch this film, we become Alice, going through the months as she becomes aware of her cognitive degeneration. She is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers, a rare and genetic form of the disease. There is a heart-wrenching scene where she and her husband must tell their three grown children. They all three run the risk of having the genetic markers for the disease.
Julianne Moore won the Oscar for Best Actress in this role as Alice Howland. Alice is a brilliant linguistics professor at a prestigious university (Columbia in the film, Harvard in the book). Her husband John, played by Alec Baldwin, is a highly regarded medical researcher. Their above-average children are a happily married lawyer, a medical student and an aspiring actress.
The family dynamics play out, but clearly they are not the main focus of the story. Alice herself, how she tests her mind, leaves notes for her future self, and tries to stay fit through the onset of the disease, is the central character here. Who stays by her side and who does not is only a sideline. How Alice maintains her sense of self is key. The story will keep you riveted, despite the serious theme. It may be emotional to watch, so bring your tissues.
Still Alice is a novel by author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova, which she self-published in 2007 after encouragement from the National Alzheimers Association. As a grad student in neuroscience, Genova had access to some of the best research in the field when she was writing the novel. She sent an early copy to the Association and thus began a close relationship between the author and the group. The film and the book are highly recommended. Please see it with a friend and talk about it after.
Los Alamos is offering a free showing of Still Alice at 11 a.m. today at the Reel Deal theater. A talk will be offered afterward. When we saw it Sunday, a table was set up in the lobby with materials and brochures from the Alzheimers Association. This is an important film that is not to be missed.