Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a well-renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University, New York. Her world is brought to a sudden halt when she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. When her memory gradually deteriorates, Alice and her family face many severe difficulties as the disease slowly develops.
Comparisons have been made to Dallas Buyers Club in terms of it appearing as this small modest film showcasing a very formidable herculean performance. Although those comments may be accurate, that’s precisely why this film excels and works so well. It benefits greatly from the simplistic narrative approach which focuses sole attention on central character Alice Howland – and as a result represents an incredibly moving character study. The film is undoubtedly about this young successful female university professor having to deal with a truly devastating period of her life – not just for herself but for her family. It acutely illustrates the trauma and anguish anyone would experience in similar situations.
Prior to this movie, Julianne Moore was one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. You would consistently find her in supporting roles and rarely in films that showcase her dramatic acting ability so it is truly delightful to see her finally pick up an Academy Award. And rightly so, as she really is incredible. Let’s hope she goes on to achieve more accolades with performances as captivating as this.
Albeit sparse, most of my understanding of Alzheimer’s is from a Louis Theroux documentary in which he visited individuals suffering with the disease. Most relevant, being when he visited a young lady in her late 40’s, who was in the early stages of developing the chronic illness. The comparisons after seeing both are almost uncanny as Moore truly reflects and embodies the incomprehensible anxiety and dread one must experience when having to deal with deterioration of the mind. One of the most standout moments in her performance is when she first attempts to tell her husband that she has the disease but he is reluctant to believing her – It appears she has never felt so alone in her life as we see her strength and spirit come crashing down all at this one moment. There are several occasions of masterful acting from Moore but I wouldn’t want to spoil the experience for you – It really is worth seeing it all first hand.
Although the film is centered on Moore as Alice, the supporting roles from Alec Baldwin, Kirsten Stewart and Kate Bosworth are very impressive as they not only paint a picture of this seemingly sturdy upper class New York family really struggling to cope with Alice’s disease but they all present brief yet vivid windows into the lives of those suffering around her.
In general, the movie encapsulates a message of raising awareness, not only for Alzheimer’s but for similar severe illnesses considering so many diseases lack the care, treatment, and study of prevention they thoroughly deserve. This theme is strongly reinforced with the untimely passing of co-writer and co-director Richard Glatzer, who sadly passed aged 63 of complications from ALS. Let’s hope this film contributes to the development of necessary research.
4 out of 5 Frozen Yogurt Stores
by Simon Garganera Price