It’s ironic that a film about a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s is so instantly forgettable in every way. Still Alice will be only remembered in years to come as the film that Julianne Moore won her long overdue Oscar like the small way The Departed is remembered as the film Scorsese finally got his statue of the naked man. Julianne Moore as always gives a solid performance but she won for the wrong film, she should have won for Maps to the Stars.
The title character Alice (Julianne Moore) is a linguistics teacher who begins showing signs of Alzheimer’s, obvious irony since her job is based in the study of language. Her family is supportive but her state deteriorates rapidly before their eyes. She learns some coping mechanisms including some memory tests on her phone but of course there is some personal turmoil with the family.
The film falls into this breed of new victimization narratives which pull on the heart-strings not so subtly but win tons of Oscars. There is nothing wrong with this necessarily, Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave fall into this trap but are artistically satisfying enough to smooth out the proceedings. Still Alice fails miserably, it’s too heavy-handed from the get go and it has an invasive score that reeks of Lifetime TV movie of the week.
The directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland take a televisual aesthetic for the film, it’s shot very flat and lacks atmosphere which is necessary for good cinema. The film’s only really virtues lie with the cast, Moore is of course good and you can understand why the older Academy was more willing to award her here than for one of her more daring performances. Alec Baldwin plays the husband and Kirsten Stewart plays one of her daughters and both give admirable performances.
Still Alice might work for some and it certainly has good performances. However it gives the viewer temporary Alzheimer’s because the moment it ends you will have totally forgotten about it. The score does that awful thing so many Hollywood films where it tells you when to moved so much you cry, it’s just pure manipulation and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.