Still Alice Parent Review
In Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays Dr. Alice Howland, an esteemed linguist who travels the world giving lectures about how we form words and speech. Her noggin is full of phonetic facts, but suddenly she’s aware of little lapses in memory that leave her speechless. She candidly remarks she may have sipped a little too much champagne. But she knows that’s not the reason. Is it stress? Sleep deprivation? A brain tumor? When she gets lost during her daily run within the very campus where she teaches in New York City, she knows it’s time to get some medical help. The outcome is the dreaded diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s.
It turns out that Alice has a rare gene that directly causes the disease—referred to as “familial Alzheimer’s disease”. Her mother carried it too. And that means each of her three children—Anna, Tom and Lydia (Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish and Kristen Stewart)—have 50-50 odds of also holding the ticking time bomb. If they test positive, the outcome is definite… they will experience the disease as they age. The overwhelming sense of loss, combined with the unwarranted feelings of parental responsibility for passing this onto the next generation, create an excruciating weight upon Alice. Making matters even more difficult is her loving husband John’s (Alec Baldwin) denial of the prognosis.
This movie is a rough ride—especially for viewers who may have experience caring for someone with this disease or may be concerned about their own future. And what member of the Boomer generation isn’t? The fear factor is heightened to a greater degree with the focus on familial Alzheimer’s (even though this form of Alzheimer’s accounts for less than 5% of patients diagnosed worldwide) and choosing a PhD as the subject that unravels before our eyes. Crosswords puzzles, Sudoku and authoring doctoral dissertations doesn’t rebuff this particular type of the disease.
It’s also highly unlikely teens will flock to cinemas to watch Julianne Moore’s amazing performance. Yet if they do show interest, parents will want to note the film contains brief sexual dialogue and infrequent profanities, including a single use of the sexual expletive. Still, the movie offers a great deal for young and old to discuss. In particular, the reactions of Alice’s children are enlightening after some of them decide to take the test to see if they carry the gene. Kristen Stewart does an especially effective job in her difficult role as the daughter who has always butted heads with her mom over career decisions and other life matters.
Because the there is no vaccine, no magic cure, and even few known ways to prevent the onset of this mentally disabling disease (at this point anyway), Still Alice is one of the most frightening films I’ve seen in recent memory. Alzheimer’s is real and we are all vulnerable. However the silver lining of this film is its strong testament to the importance of family and spousal support, something that will become increasingly necessary within our aging population.Directed by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland. Starring Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart. Running time: 99 minutes. Updated May 12, 2015
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Still Alice here.
Still Alice Parents Guide
Learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and specifically Younger/Early Onset Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Are you concerned about memory loss with yourself or a loved one? Discover the differences between normal aging and signs of Alzheimer’s.
The rare form of Alzheimer’s depicted in this movie are due to deterministic genes—meaning there is no way to avoid contracting the disease. However the vast majority of the population can work to prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
The adult children in this family each have a 50/50 chance of discovering they have the gene that will cause them to contract Alzheimer’s disease during their lifetime. Would you want to know if you had the gene? What would be the benefits of knowing? What are the advantages of not knowing?
What roles do family members play in caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease? What blessings can come from providing such care?