Writing two blogs eats up a lot of time, especially when trying to maintain the rigorous discipline of generating one post per week per blog. Now and then, when my schedule demands it, I cheat. This is one of those times.
I’m putting this post up on this blog two days early. It’s also being published on my other blog two days late. While you could accuse me of double-dipping, using one post to take up two slots, it’s okay because the topic serves the distinct purposes of the respective target blogs.
There. I’ve rationalized my sloth.
Limping in the Light, deals with chronic illness, specifically MS. Scribbling in the Sand concentrates on my writing, including screenplays, which leads to an occasional movie review. What happens when those two worlds collide?
You get “Still Alice”.
Every now and then, a major movie is released that restores my faith in what film can do. This is one of those times. Here’s a movie about a realistic human being facing a realistic, if excruciating, fate: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve wanted to see this film for which Julianne Moore deservedly won the Oscar for Best Actress, but for some reason I just got around to it last week. It was worth the wait.
Hollywood doesn’t get too excited about the chronically ill, the exception being mental illness, but only if said condition leads to exploitable sexual or violent behavior. We were fortunate to have two quality films about “disabling” illness recognized by the Academy for 2014, the other being “The Theory of Everything”.
“Still Alice” accurately and vividly portrays the maxim that individuals don’t get sick, families do. Alice’s condition is almost as destructive to her family as it is to her. Yet it somehow brings about healing as well. How people react to sickness is as revealing as how it affects its victim.
Not enough can be said about Ms. Moore’s performance. Subtle, powerful, gripping, disturbing, and true are all words that capture the essence of what she does on the screen. I felt her slow retreat into lostness almost viscerally. The “making of” featurette on the DVD was particularly enlightening as it dealt with how she prepared for her role.
In any other movie, two characteristics found in this film would have upset me. It contained the obligatory puke scene and it easily toed the depression line that was de rigueur for most 2014 productions. Both were acceptable, maybe even mandatory in this context. I lambasted 2014’s bummer crop in a previous post, even mentioning this movie as an example. This is a film that will indeed be depressing for most, but the courage of battle can be uplifting as well.
Don’t watch the movie for a lightweight escape. Watch it to be entertained in the best possible way. Watch it to learn more about this particular condition. Watch it to develop more compassion for people dealing with disabling illness. Watch it for a master class in acting. Watch it because it’s not “Mortdecai”. Watch it to make the statement that not every movie has to have aliens and/or explosions and/or serial killers.
Just watch it.