Monday, June 29, 2015

'Still Alice'

Last week I finally watched Still Alice, the film adaptation of Lisa Genova's bestselling novel (which I also read, albeit very late).

At first, I didn't want to see the movie because I just could not picture Alec Baldwin portraying the husband of the main character, but eventually I figured I might as well just swallow my pride and watch it. For those unfamiliar with the plot of the movie/novel, Still Alice follows the life of Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), a psychology professor and world renowned linguistics expert who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease at the age of fifty.

The film adaptation had its strong points, and definitely had its weak points. I don't know who chose to cast Kristen Stewart as Alice's youngest daughter Lydia, but they have my eternal gratitude because she was absolutely amazing in the role (betcha didn't see that turning positive when I said Kristen Stewart, didn't you?) I didn't picture Lydia like that at all while reading the novel, but she and Julianne Moore shared great chemistry and portrayed their shaky-turned-strong relationship quite well. I also quite enjoyed Hunter Parrish as Alice and John's middle child and son Tom, who made the character interesting. Tom was arguably the most boring and under-developed character in the novel.

However, my prediction that Alec Baldwin would not be good as Alice's husband John was completely. My personal feelings and opinions about the actor aside (I loathe him), I just don't feel Baldwin was the right choice for the role. I could've seen someone like John Cusack or even George Clooney portraying John, but not Baldwin. He just wasn't the right fit, in my opinion. In addition, I still don't understand why they wrote the character of Alice and John's eldest child and daughter Anna the way they did. She was so bitchy and full of herself in the movie, and I did not feel any of that in the character's persona in the novel. At all. That was a hit and miss there, if you ask me.

But my biggest problem with the film adaptation of Still Alice? The plot was waaay too rushed. The movie was only an hour and forty minutes long, which was quite surprising to me. I was expecting it to go past the two-hour mark for sure. Granted, the novel was short and sweet, and intended that way (292 pages), but this is a story that I could've done with its film adaptation going above and beyond the novel. The ending of the movie was perfect in every way, but everything leading up to it was so rushed. I would've preferred the filmmakers going past the two-hour mark and developing characters more than they were in the novel than just changing a few minor details and keeping to the exact tone of the novel.

For example, one major plotpoint was that Alice's mother and sister were killed in a car accident when she was 18, and as her memory began to wander she constantly mistook her daughter Anna for her late sister, Anne. Without reading the novel I would think someone watching the movie would be a little confused with that part of the story, because I feel they should've developed that more. But, perhaps there was a valid reason the filmmakers did it the way they did it. But, weak points aside, the film adaptation was very good, considering how complex the novel was. Julianne Moore's performance was breathtaking, she definitely deserved the Oscar she took home for her performance in Still Alice.

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