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Review: “Still Alice” (and where and when you can catch it in Leipzig this week)

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"Still Alice - Movie Poster" by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via http://wikipedia.org
“Still Alice – Movie Poster” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via http://wikipedia.org

This year, the film “Still Alice” – about a middle-aged linguistics professor, mother and wife diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – brought lead actress Julianne Moore her long-overdue first Oscar. Although much of the publicity around the movie may have been related to such a happening, guest reviewer Stewart Tunnicliff gives us plenty of reasons (besides Moore’s performance) why we should definitely watch it.

“Still Alice” (USA, 2014, drama)

By Stewart Tunnicliff

As a film consumer who varies from junk fast food, small owner-run eateries and gourmet type movies, these days often a film has to resonate with me. “Still Alice” should even hit a nerve or heart string with those who have been lucky enough not to witness first hand the impact of this disease.

The tone of the film is from the onset about the frustration of coping. Which for many with any mental disease or disability is the case. The main character having to deal with early onset Alzheimer’s and the varying effects on family members is pushed to the fore. It shows the story from their perspective and Alice’s relationship with them pulls the film along.

The story arc between Alice and her estranged daughter is fully rounded and fascinating. It is outstandingly played out by Juliane Moore (Alice) and Kristen Stewart (Lydia) from a typical at odds mother-daughter relationship to one of attempted understanding, empathy and genuine compassion. Her husband, played by Alec Baldwin in an unusual family father role for him, also struggles with the impact the disease has on their relationship, as does Alice on her identity and the intellectualism associated with her career as a linguistics professor. There was some nicely set interior and exterior scenery, but the story and the struggle to cope is what keeps you invested in the outcome.

How much we can wrap ourselves up in set notions of self and the devastation of that unravelling is what you walk away with. A very sensitive treatment of a disease that still has a lot of misunderstanding associated with it. The directors (Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland) tell a moving story, and in doing so I hope they manage to put the disease into the spotlight and forefront of the audience’s mind. Juliane Moore has that kind of gentle gravitas that can often lift a film and make you appreciate why she has been nominated for many an Oscar. However, the film is so well handled that her role central as it is, it is the story itself that drives the film through its heart wrenching and tender moments, playing with familial/social perception, memory and the intentions of our actions.

A highly recommendable film about family and the effects of dealing with the harsh reality of living with Alzheimers. A brave depiction that will especially give the viewer an insight into something that ails many in our society but is rarely depicted on celluloid.

In Leipzig this week:

Schauburg, Antonienstr. 21

MONDAY, APRIL 13 – 20:00 (OmU)

Schaubühne Lindenfels, Karl-Heine-Str. 50

TUESDAY, APRIL 14 – 22:00 (OmU)

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15 – 22:00 (OmU)

Coming from a theatre and performance background, and being a celluloid aficionado, it only seemed right that Stewart aka theLingoGuy pursued this through his other passion of writing. He is also very excited by the theatre and documentary scene developing locally, particularly English Theatre Leipzig, DOK and GlobalLE. However, he keeps an eye on the ground breaking stuff in the Fringe, Slam poetry, Battle Rap and the many fusion genre TV series and films. As you can see, you can expect a diverse palette of stage and screen choices, as well as other passions that he will paint from with his words.

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