Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring.
This is a very sad but realistic portrait of what is like to go through an early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis from the perspective of the previously dynamic and successful person going through it. We experience it with Alice mostly through her eyes . Julianne Moore’s delivery of such difficult subject matter is raw and believable and truly her finest work to date. She neither overplays or underplays the various aspects common to people with this disease. I felt like I was peering into someone with this disease’s window. The story simply unfolds before you.
There is an area of this movie that may bother some; where Alice preplans a suicide while she is still coherent via a video to herself for a later time. Truly driving home how hard it is to follow even simple instructions in advanced stages, we see Alice attempt several times over to follow the instructions she left herself in the video and fail to do so. It was a very powerful and jarring moment.
The subject matter was intense but this movie attempts to balance the heavy subject with some humor and tender moments and a sense of respect for the diagnosis nobody wants to hear but many do. Very well done and I can see why Julianne Moore has received awards for this role.
Directors: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Year of Release: 2015
Character to watch: Julianne Moore as Alice Howland.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?