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I love Julianne Moore and so when I discovered that she has been nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for ‘Still Alice’, I had to see that. I saw it yesterday night. Here is what I think. 

Still Alice Directed By Richard Glatzer And Wash Westmoreland

‘Still Alice’ is the story of Alice, who is fifty-years-old, is a brilliant professor of linguistics at Columbia University and has written the definitive book on the subject. She discovers one day while giving a lecture that she is not able to find the right word which will articulate her thoughts – the word slips from her memory and as hard as she tries to grasp it and hold it and get it back it slips away. When this starts happening frequently, she meets a doctor. The doctor does a battery of tests and confirms her worst fears – that she has early onset Alzheimer’s. Her husband initially refuses to believe it, but in the end accepts it reluctantly. Alice has three grown up children – two daughters and a son. The elder daughter is married and is trying to get pregnant. The son is doing well professionally, but his romantic life is a roller coaster. Her younger daughter has refused to go to college, lives in L.A. and is trying to become an actress. When Alice breaks the news to them, they are all shocked. Then the family tries to get together and help her in their own way. The situation slowly deteriorates and Alice starts forgetting more and more things. She is frustrated with the situation as she has always been an intellectual person who has lived a rich interior life. She doesn’t want to forget her favourite memories and she wants to be around as a normal person when her daughter has children and for other special family events. Before things cross the ‘no comebacks’ line, Alice makes a video addressed to herself. In that video she tells herself that when she can’t remember the answer to basic questions like ‘What is her eldest daughter’s name?’ and ‘When is her birthday?’ she should go to her room, take out a bottle of pills and have them all together with a big glass of water and go to sleep. They are, of course, sleeping pills. The rest of the movie shows how Alice’s memory keeps slipping away a little bit at a time and how her relationship with her family members evolves during that period. Does she see the video and take the pills? What happens to her in the end? You should watch the movie to find out. 

I loved ‘Still Alice’. Alice’s relationship with her family and how it evolves across time is beautifully depicted. The way Alice struggles with her condition, the frustrations and heartburn she goes through and how she learns to accept it – these are all beautifully depicted. I loved the scenes which had conversations between Alice and her actress daughter Lydia. Alice is frustrated that Lydia hasn’t gone to college and is taking high risks with her career and doesn’t have a ‘Plan B’. Alice wants Lydia to get a college degree so that it could help her if her acting career doesn’t take off, but her daughter is adamant about not going to college. She says that she doesn’t want a backup plan. Lydia resents the fact that her mother keeps meddling with her life and doesn’t accept her as she is. In one scene Alice says that she wants Lydia to have a good career and settle down in life before she leaves and Lydia says that Alice can’t use her condition to make Lydia do what she wants and that was unfair. Alice says that she can and that is because she is her mother. It is a beautiful scene in which we are able to see both the characters’ perspectives and we understand both sides and know that the issue is not going to be resolved anytime soon like all complex family problems. The way Alice progressively loses her memory is delicately and sensitively portrayed and it is heartbreaking to watch.

Some of my favourite scenes from the movie were these – Alice’s conversations with Lydia on Lydia’s career, their discussion on a play Lydia is working on, and one of the last scenes when Lydia reads a play to Alice – I loved every scene in which Alice and Lydia come together; Alice weeping on her husband’s shoulder when she is frustrated by her condition and is not able to accept it; Alice giving an inspiring talk at the Alzheimer’s group – well there are many more, the whole movie was perfect.

Julianne Moore as Alice is brilliant and has given probably the finest performance of her career. She has won every award out there for her role and I hope she caps it off with an Oscar on Sunday. The Academy has ignored her for so long and I hope they get it right this time. I also loved Kirsten Stewart as Alice’s daughter Lydia. Kirsten Stewart keeps getting better and better and has evolved into a fine actress. I hope she chooses weighty scripts like this and does more wonderful movies in the future.

‘Still Alice’ is one of my favourite movies. It is a sensitive portrayal of a woman who is slowly affected by Alzheimer’s. It is beautiful, inspiring and heartbreaking, all at the same time. I started watching it late at night and I hoped to see half of it then and half of it the next day. But once I started watching the movie, I couldn’t stop and though it went on till the wee hours of the morning I kept on going till I watched the last scene. After I finished watching, my mind was fresh, there was a spring in my step and my heart was more alive and was filled with happiness even though it was a untimely hour – this is the kind of effect that the best movies have on the viewer and ‘Still Alice’ is definitely one of the finest of them. If you haven’t already watched it, I would highly recommend that you do.

Now a rant 🙂 I am surprised that ‘Still Alice’ has not been nominated for the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar. Not even for the ‘Best Director’ Oscar. I checked out all the movies which have been nominated for the ‘Best Actress Oscar’ and four out of five have not been nominated in either of these categories. Why is that? Why is the Academy ignoring movies which have a main woman protagonist for the ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’ nominations? Is this kind of thing still happening??

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