Still Alice

Coincidentally, the day I’d finally made plans to see Still Alice, the film in which Julianne Moore plays an intellectual with early-onset Alzheimers, one of its two writer-directors died from A.L.S. Death was in the air. It was also three months since my father died from Alzheimers. “Are you sure you want to do this?” my friend asked me. Then more definitely: “You sure?”

"Still Alice" or "Already Demented"?

“Still Alice” or “Already Demented”?

Yes, I was sure, and no, it wasn’t especially difficult. My pop was over 80 by the time he died, and his body was failing ever so slightly faster than his mind. The terrifying thing about the early-onset type is that you can have the active body of a mid-50s person while your mind declines, often more precipitously than the later-onset cases. That’s when you get into some real trouble.

The milieu of Still Alice (script by Wash Westmoreland & the late Richard Glatzer) is a family of over-achievers out of a Woody Allen ensemble, but one that has a real problem, not just some neuroses and self-inflicted wounds of betrayal.

I’m sorry to say that otherwise the film is a little like an after-school special, or maybe an early-onset On Golden Pond. It’s a story that vindicates a troubled mother-daughter bond, while playing the disease for simple tragedy. It was, I must admit, very inventive, and realistic, in the family’s use of technology to communicate, including one device in which Alice, while still of sound mind, records a video and sends it to her future self, telling her that it’s time to commit suicide, and instructing her on how to do it.

It makes for an interesting litmus test. I don’t know whether most people were hoping she would succeed or not. I know I was.

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