Still Alice is meant to be a devastating portrait of a woman whose entire life comes crashing down when she realizes she's suffering from early onset Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately, what it feels like is a made for TV movie only slightly elevated by Julianne Moore's naturalistic performance in the title role.
Alice is a fifty-something college professor of linguistics with three grown children, a supportive husband, and seemingly relative wealth and comfort, when she suddenly starts to experience troubling memory loss and fleeting incoherence. She starts seeing a neurologist, then confides in her husband, is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, and must tell her kids the truth, which includes the devastating fact that at least one of them probably possesses the gene for the disease that she inherited from her late father. Alice then goes into further and further deterioration over the course of a year, as her kids and husband attempt to deal with her increasing mental failings.
All of this plays out exactly how it sounds, with no embellishments, drama or character arc for anyone in the movie. It's almost as if the film was made as an acting showcase for Moore, which it is to some extent, but without much depth to her character (a former intellectual who must deal now with her debilitating intellect is as far as it goes) she can only elevate this movie so much. Alice goes from bad to worse, and that's about all that happens. Yes, it's sad to watch, but everything feels surface level, which pushes the experience of the audience to simply being an observer of someone trying to act like they have Alzheimer's. The fact that the filmmakers tried to keep events from going too over the top might be a realistic approach, but tends to make the film feel a bit monotonous as it goes on.
The supporting cast is mostly fine, which includes Alec Baldwin as the husband, Kate Bosworth as the oldest daughter, and Kristen Stewart as the youngest- but I can't help but be distracted by Stewart's utter lack of talent and inability to change her facial expressions and physical mannerisms in every movie she appears in. How does this girl keep getting work? Still Alice is a glossy, unmemorable film that would have played more at home on the Hallmark Channel than in a theater.