13 dic. 2014

Still Alice (7/10): Moore's powerful portrayal of a woman suffering from mental illness elevates this film

“So live in the moment I tell myself, it really is all I can do, live in the moment.”

Still Alice is a film that touches delicate subject matters, which sometimes don’t make for a compelling watch. It’s hard to sit down and watch someone suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and witness their slow deterioration as they gradually lose their mind. Somehow, Julianne Moore gives such a powerful performance that makes this delicate theme worth your while. She carries this film, and elevates it from your standard mental illness movie. Julianne Moore is on the top of her game and following her strong performance in Maps to the Stars, she delivers an authentic portrayal of a woman trying to come to grips with her terrible diagnosis. The film intelligently centers on her in a very authentic way instead of focusing on the rest of her family, like so many films tend to do when the character has hit rock bottom with their mental disease. As the title suggests, the focus is on Alice and her character is fully developed even when she is at her lowest. As an audience we sometimes tend to look away or find ways to ignore people with mental illness, and many films do so by focusing on the reaction of the rest of the family or on the loved ones as if the main character has lost his or her personality. But we are reminded in this film that Alice is still Alice, and Julianne Moore makes sure we come to grips with this. Julianne Moore will probably be nominated for her lead performance here and it wouldn’t surprise me if she wins her first Oscar after her fifth nomination. She is long overdue.

It’s no surprise that this film was delivered in such an authentic way when you take into consideration that the co-director, Richard Glatzer, suffers from ASL and can’t speak himself. If a film wants to deliver a powerful and empathetic film about mental illness, then there is no better way to do so than having someone who is experiencing this first hand. Glatzer, who has co-directed his previous films with Wash Westmoreland, reunites with him once again co-writing the adapted screenplay from Lisa Genova’s novel. I know the issue has been explored many times before and one could assume it enters familiar territory, but Moore’s portrayal of the character makes this film stand out from others. For people who have gone through similar issues with a family member or close friend, Still Alice hits home, but it does so in a compassionate way. It reminds us how fragile our minds and life can be. Having Moore play a highly intelligent linguistic professor makes this all the more shocking as we see how she struggles with the disease. The most emotional moment of the film comes when Moore’s character is giving a touching speech about how she is dealing with the disease. It was a powerful moment in the movie and Moore deserves all the recognition she’s been getting for her performance. Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart both give strong supporting performances as well. The entire film rings true in its exploration of mental illness, and the performances never go over the top. Everything about this film rings true despite the delicate themes that are touched. The subject matter might not be appealing for most audiences and they may find the film tedious, but for me it hits home and I found it to be a compelling drama.


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