Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a renowned professor of cognitive science and linguistics. Her husband John (Alec Baldwin) is a successful physician. They have three grown kids, stellar careers and an exciting future ahead of them. Suddenly Alice notices that she forgets words.
She has herself checked out and is diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Everything comes crashing down. Her struggle, her fight for the normalcy of her life, is frightening.
I have often worried about my memory. It used to be almost infallible, and I could memorize anything I wanted to: long lists of items in the military, poems, songs, foreign vocabulary and speeches in Toastmasters. After turning 50, I found that occasionally I can’t even remember names of famous actors, like – Alec Baldwin. The names would be ‘on the tip of my tongue’ but nonetheless completely inaccessible. This was a frightening discovery and it has often given me reason to pause.
Watching Still Alice reminded me of this sign of aging that we all eventually experience. Our bodies can’t do what they used to be able to, and the same happens to our minds. For most of us.
For Alice, however, the diagnosis is unforgiving. She knows she is sinking into the abyss of losing her memory, her cognition, and in the process – herself. This movie is about how she deals with it.
Frightening, that’s the word that comes to mind. Frightening.