Since it’s awards season, it’s only necessary that I go see at least three films that make me cry, with at least two of them based on a true story about a white, rich male from an affluent country. Check, check, check.

However, here at Set In Motion we’re all about giving the proverbial bird to the patriarchal society, and by that I mean I went and saw a high-grossing, critically-acclaimed film STARRING A WOMAN! Even better, it’s starring a woman who ISN’T UNDER THE AGE OF 30! (I don’t know why I feel the need to ‘yell’ things today, but nevertheless I think it adds something, no?) Granted, that woman is Julianne Moore, pretty much a ‘heavyweight’ in the film industry, and sure, the main character loses her memory, intelligence and will to live – but still, isn’t it nice watching a film that passes the Bechdel test?

Still Alice follows Alice (Julianne Moore) a renowned linguistics professor who appears to have it all. She’s happily married to her husband John (Alec Baldwin), her three kids are thriving and successful (except the ‘black sheep’ of the family who wants to act) and her career is soaring. Then, when Alice starts forgetting words, and directions, and appointments, she faces the devastating diagnosis: early-onset Alzheimer’s. As her health and memory deteriorates, Alice and her family must face the difficult question: can a person still ‘be themselves’ if they no longer have their memories?

Still Alice is a relatively simple film that shines with its devastating plot and the performance given by Julianne Moore. Though the plot is straightforward and does not deviate much, it is this simplicity that makes it so heart wrenching. Combined with the beautiful cinematography and the haunting score used throughout the film, Still Alice provides us with a poignant, sympathetic view of Alzheimer’s.

However, it is Julianne Moore’s role as Alice that takes Still Alice from good to breathtaking. Moore plays a fine line – believable yet tragic, sympathetic but not sickly sweet – it is a character that could easily have become comic or even insulting if it had been played without the finesse that Moore uses. And as her character’s health starts to fade and her memories go, it is the movements and the facial expressions that Moore is left with to use that makes her performance so believable.

For a film that has such a simple premise, Still Alice managed to stay with me long after it has finished. While the subject of Alzheimer’s is always going to be heart-wrenching in itself, it was the questions about sense of self that kept me thinking into overtime. Are we reliant on our memories to be ourselves? Is it more tragic if an intelligent, thriving person loses their memories than someone else?

Still Alice wasn’t a flawless film, but it was one that was genuine, which made up for its flaws. Moore’s performance combined with the plot made it not only a highly emotional film to watch, but also a thought-provoking one.

Have you seen Still Alice? Do you think Julianne Moore should win an Oscar award for it? Let me know!

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