Still Alice (PG-13)

8 Stars

“Movies are mechanisms of empathy,” Roger Ebert didn’t quite say.

But this reviewer prefers the misquoted diction (provided by Anderson Cowan of The Film Vault.)

When one asks, “Why watch Still Alice when it’s only going to depress me?”

There’s only one legitimate response.

“It’s a mechanism of empathy, dawg.”

Channeling an experiential river flow, the narrative spins the neurological waterwheel.

Did I want to watch Still Al? No.

Am I a smarter/better person following the experience? Absolutely.

The purely objective form of personal growth? The viewer’s exponentially more fluent in the Alzheimer’s realm of modern medicine.

The subjective forms? For one: The priceless merit of seeing a well-crafted, timely motion picture.

Two: If your torso’s peppered with shurikens, I’d hope it wouldn’t come as a complete surprise.

Likewise, if my demise arrives on a tidal wave of death stars, what’s to stop me from running around in a circle and screaming obscenities until the official end?

Maximizing (rather than minimizing) the agony of my unexpected affliction.

Catch my drift, proverbial reader?

Still Alice is profoundly sad, but not ‘depressing.’

‘Depressing’ connotes a residual effect; a lasting (potentially irrevocable) alteration of your emotional state.

I discourage this aversion toward cinematic tragedy. My top three films of all time (Platoon, Raging Bull and Schindler’s List) belong in the downer category.

Tragedy often spotlights hidden profundities.

Still Alice is a heartwarming narrative obscured by the haze of Early Onset Alzheimer’s, a rare form of the disease. Symptoms typically begin showing in the early fifties.

At that precise moment, the viewer meets Alice and her family.

It’s tough, folks.

No sugarcoating it.

Expect to weep. More than once.

On a high note, it’s well shot, directed and edited. The writing’s crisp; the drama’s chilly and real.

Lead by an outstanding performance from one of the best actresses ever, Julianne Moore, the entire cast is fantastic.

Alec Baldwin’s excellence in a major supporting role comes as no surprise.

What (perhaps) defies expectation is an equally terrific piece of acting from Kristen Stewart.

This reviewer hopped aboard Kristen’s locomotive after Snow White and The Huntsman. That gal’s gotten a bum rap, despite some serious acting chops.

Anyhow. For an educational and moving experience, check out Still Alice.

It’s a top quality flick, featuring adept performances from a tight (but stellar) cast.

Should one find oneself sobbing mid-theater, cursing a favorite film reviewer’s name, try to remind oneself:

“It’s a mechanism of empathy, dawg.”

Feel that cognitive waterwheel aturnin’.

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