Julianne Moore is startlingly good in “Still Alice” playing a Columbia linguistics professor grappling with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Before the diagnosis she appears to have a model life: a caring scientist husband (Alec Baldwin), a dream job, and three devoted children (the most unsettled of them, well played by Kristin Stewart, is a struggling actress in Los Angeles).
Alice’s decline is rendered essentially from her own point of view, but by focusing so intently on her, the co-writing and directing team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland skimp on the realities one might reasonably expect from this story (adapted from a novel by neuroscientist Lisa Genova). Alice’s children, undergoing genetic testing for the disease, seem eerily unfazed by the results; this gregarious and esteemed woman apparently has few friends or colleagues to interact with; her husband is the Rock of Gibraltar; and so on. It’s a strange movie – simultaneously rawly realistic and airbrushed. Grade: B (Rated PG-13 for mature themes and brief language including a sexual reference.)