Still Alice is a 2014 independent drama film written and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland and based on Lisa Genova's bestselling 2007 novel of the same name. The film stars Julianne Moore as Alice Howland, a linguistics professor diagnosed with familial Alzheimer's disease shortly after her 50th birthday. Alec Baldwin plays her husband, John, and Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish play her children, Lydia, Anna and Tom.
Theatrical release poster
|Based on||Still Alice|
by Lisa Genova
|Music by||Ilan Eshkeri|
|Edited by||Nicolas Chaudeurge|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
|101 minutes |
|Box office||$44.8 million|
Glatzer and Westmoreland were approached by Lex Lutzus and James Brown to adapt Genova's novel in 2011, when Glatzer had just been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Moore was their first choice for the lead role; she researched Alzheimer's disease for four months to prepare for the part. The film was shot in New York in March 2014, with a budget of $4 million.
Still Alice had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2014. It was one of several films stolen in the Sony Pictures hack incident and leaked online on November 27, 2014. The film was released theatrically on January 16, 2015, and grossed $43.9 million at the international box office. It received positive reviews, and Moore's performance won numerous awards including the Academy Award for Best Actress. She dedicated her Academy Award win to Glatzer, who died from ALS in March 2015. The film was named among the year's top ten independent films by the National Board of Review.
Alice Howland, a linguistics professor at Columbia University, celebrates her 50th birthday with her physician husband John and their three adult children. After she forgets a word during a lecture and becomes lost during a jog on campus, Alice's doctor diagnoses her with early onset familial Alzheimer's disease. Alice's elder daughter, Anna, and son, Tom, take a genetic test to find out if they will develop the disease. Alice's younger daughter Lydia, an aspiring actress, decides not to be tested.
As Alice's memory begins to fade, she daydreams of her mother and sister, who died in a car crash when she was a teenager. She memorizes words and sets a series of personal questions on her phone, which she answers every morning. She hides sleeping pills in her room, and records a video message instructing her future self to commit suicide by overdosing on the pills when she can no longer answer the questions. As her disease advances, she becomes unable to give focused lectures and loses her job. She becomes lost searching for the bathroom in her own home and does not recognize Lydia after seeing her perform in a play.
John is offered a job at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Alice asks him to postpone accepting the job, but he feels this is impossible. At her doctor's suggestion, Alice delivers a speech at an Alzheimer's conference about her experience with the disease, using a highlighter to remind herself which parts of the speech she has already spoken, and receives a standing ovation.
Alice begins to have difficulty answering the questions on her phone. She loses the phone and becomes distressed; John finds it a month later in the freezer, but Alice thinks it has only been missing for a day. Alice and John visit Anna in the hospital to meet their newborn twin grandchildren, but Alice doesn't recognize her daughter.
After a video call with Lydia, Alice inadvertently opens the video with the suicide instructions. With some difficulty, she finds the pills and is about to swallow them, but when she is interrupted by the arrival of her caregiver, she drops the pills on the floor and forgets what she was doing.
John, unable to watch his wife continue to deteriorate, moves to Minnesota. Lydia, who has been living in California, moves back home to care for Alice. Lydia reads her a section of the play Angels in America and asks her what she thinks it is about. Alice, barely able to speak, responds with a single word: "love".
- Julianne Moore as Alice Daly Howland
- Alec Baldwin as John Howland
- Kristen Stewart as Lydia Howland
- Kate Bosworth as Anna Howland-Jones
- Hunter Parrish as Tom Howland
- Shane McRae as Charlie Jones
- Stephen Kunken as Dr. Benjamin
- Victoria Cartagena as Professor Hooper
- Seth Gilliam as Frederic Johnson
- Daniel Gerroll as Eric Wellman
- Erin Darke as Jenny
- Kristin Macomber as Anne
- Caridad Montanez as Elena
- Eha Urbsalu as Mrs. Daly, Alice's mother (in flashbacks)
Still Alice is based on a novel of the same name published in 2007. The novel was written by Lisa Genova, a neuroscientist who was inspired by her grandmother's development of Alzheimer's disease to write about the disease from a firsthand perspective. British film producers Lex Lutzus and James Brown bought the rights to a film adaptation of the novel and pitched the project to their friends, filmmaking partners and married couple Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, in 2011. Glatzer and Westmoreland were initially hesitant to write and direct the film because Glatzer had just been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); they thought that writing about Alzheimer's disease, another neurodegenerative disease, "may be a little too close to the bone". They ultimately took up the offer and wrote a screenplay based on Genova's novel in early 2012. Elements of the story were lifted from Glatzer's experience with ALS and Westmoreland's role as his primary caregiver.
Julianne Moore was Glatzer and Westmoreland's first choice for the lead role. Moore prepared for the role over four months, watching documentaries about Alzheimer's disease. She met with Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns, the Co-Producer of the film and the head of The Judy Fund, which partners with the Alzheimer's Association in the fight to cure Alzheimer's Disease. Introductions were made to Dr. Mary Sano, the director of Alzheimer's disease research at Mount Sinai Hospital. Through Skype, she talked to three women with early-onset Alzheimer's disease; she also visited a support group for women with Alzheimer's disease and a long-term care facility for Alzheimer's patients. She also undertook the cognitive testing used for diagnosing dementia with a neuropsychiatrist. Moore suggested Alec Baldwin to play Alice's husband, since they had previously worked together on the sitcom 30 Rock. Kate Bosworth was cast after she told Glatzer and Westmoreland "how important and personal the subject matter was" to her; she had family members with Alzheimer's disease and, after reading Genova's book, set out to become involved in the film adaptation.
Principal photography took place in New York over 23 days in March 2014. Most of the film was shot in a townhouse on West 162nd Street in Manhattan. Some scenes were filmed in an apartment building in Yonkers and a senior's home in Hastings-on-Hudson. The film was shot by French cinematographer Denis Lenoir, whom Glatzer and Westmoreland had met at a film screening in 1999; they had wanted to work with him ever since. During filming, Glatzer and Westmoreland attempted to divide the directing duties equally between themselves, even though Glatzer's physical condition had deteriorated to the point that he could only communicate by typing on an iPad with a single finger.
The production's $4 million budget was funded by the French financier BSM Studio. Post-production on the film was completed ten days before its premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. The score was composed by Ilan Eshkeri, who wanted to work on Still Alice because of his experience with people affected by Alzheimer's disease in his personal life. He had worked on several Alzheimer's-related projects before, including the 2012 film Ashes, Tim Wheeler's 2014 album Lost Domain, and an advertising campaign for the Alzheimer's Society; he said of working on Still Alice, "in many ways this was a culmination of an artistic expression of something that has deeply touched me." Eshkeri wrote the score to be performed on piano, which he intended to represent Alice's family life, and by a string trio, of which he thought the challenge of composition was similar to "the challenge of coping with the disease".
Still Alice had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2014. Sony Pictures Classics, which bought the U.S. distribution rights for the film, gave it a one-week release in December 2014 so that it would qualify for that year's Academy Awards. After making the deal with Sony, Westmoreland and Glatzer were eager to have the film released as early as possible, partly because of Glatzer's declining health. The film began its proper theatrical run with a limited release on January 16, 2015, earning $197,000 from 12 locations on its opening weekend. On February 20, it was given a wide release, expanding to 765 theaters across the U.S. Overall, the film grossed $18,754,371 over 14 weeks in American theaters. It earned $25,130,281 in other countries for a worldwide gross of $43,884,652.
The film was part of the confidential data stolen in the Sony Pictures hack incident; it was leaked onto peer-to-peer file sharing websites on November 27, 2014, over a month ahead of its scheduled release. Along with it came Fury and three other unreleased Sony Pictures films (Annie, Mr. Turner and To Write Love on Her Arms). Within three days of the leak, Still Alice had been downloaded by an estimated 103,832 unique IP addresses.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Still Alice has a "Certified Fresh" rating of 85% based on 200 reviews, with an average rating of 7.37/10. The site's consensus reads, "Elevated by a gripping performance from Julianne Moore, Still Alice is a heartfelt drama that honors its delicate themes with bravery and sensitivity." On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 reviews from film critics, the film has a score of 72 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Moore's acting received critical acclaim. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers wrote of "the blazing artistry" of Moore's performance, which he said was "alive with ferocity and feeling and committed to truth". Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle described Moore's portrayal of Alice as "convincing, disturbing and personal", while Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty cited it as being "among her most devastating performances". In a review for The Globe and Mail, Liam Lacey wrote of her "transparent emotional presence", though he felt that "the part [of Alice] barely scratches the surface of her ability". The Daily Telegraph critic Tim Robey felt that Moore's "astonishingly delicate and sad" performance was one of the highlights of her career, and characterized the film as a whole as "gorgeous [and] piercing".
Empire magazine's David Hughes gave Still Alice 5 out of 5 stars, highlighting Moore's "note-perfect performance" and Glatzer and Westmoreland's "sensitivity and scalpel-sharp precision". Deborah Young, reviewing the film for The Hollywood Reporter, praised the directors' "restrained, understated approach" to the story, which she saw as "the best insurance against sloppy sentimentality". The Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan attributed the film's success to Moore and Stewart's ability "to keep things honest" despite parts of it seeming "contrived and overly familiar". Peter Debruge of Variety complimented Glatzer and Westmoreland's "dignified" and "personal" approach to the subject matter, as well as their decision to tell the story from Alice's point of view.
Other critics gave the film lukewarm reviews. A. O. Scott of The New York Times praised Moore and Stewart's performances, but felt that the story was "too removed from life to carry the full measure of pain that Alice deserves". The New Yorker critic Anthony Lane criticized Glatzer and Westmoreland for "flinch[ing]" when it came to showing Alice's deterioration and its effect on her family, and found the film's sentimental aspects "manipulative—and effective". The Austin Chronicle's Josh Kupecki gave the film 2.5 out of 5 stars, finding it clichéd and melodramatic, and likening it to a public service announcement. Richard Roeper, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, described Moore as giving "a four-star performance in a two-star movie", drawing attention to the "intrusive" score and the "maddeningly overwrought and heavy-handed" storytelling.
For her performance as Alice Howland, Julianne Moore won an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Critics' Choice Movie Award. Still Alice marked her first Academy Award win after four previous nominations. Although she was widely considered the Best Actress frontrunner in anticipation of the Academy Awards ceremony, some critics felt that Still Alice was not one of Moore's strongest performances and did not deserve to win. Moore dedicated her Academy Award win to Glatzer, who died from ALS several weeks later on March 10, 2015.
- "Still Alice (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
- Buckley, Cara (November 26, 2014). "Yearning to Make the Connection". The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- Haun, Harry (January 14, 2015). "Through the Looking Glass: Remembering 'Still Alice' co-director Richard Glatzer". Film Journal International. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Zeitchik, Steven (March 12, 2015). "Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland on the catharsis of 'Still Alice'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Saner, Emine (March 6, 2015). "Still Alice director: escaping a religious cult, making porn and celebrating Julianne Moore's Oscar". The Guardian. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Trunick, Austin (January 20, 2015). "Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, and Kate Bosworth on "Still Alice"". Under the Radar. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- Smith, Nigel M. (December 12, 2014). "How Julianne Moore Pulled Off Her Devastating Performance in 'Still Alice'". IndieWire. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- "The AFI FEST Interview: Co-Director Wash Westmoreland Talks STILL ALICE". American Film Institute. November 10, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- Kemmerle, Karen (January 21, 2015). "Kate Bosworth on 'Still Alice' and Working With Julianne Moore". Tribeca Enterprises. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- West, Latoya (April 4, 2014). "5 locally filmed movies and TV shows to watch". The Journal News. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- Jaffe, Ina (February 15, 2015). "In 'Still Alice,' Director Couple Tells A Story That Mirrors Their Own". NPR. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Pearlman, Cindy (January 14, 2015). "Julianne Moore sees 'Still Alice' as a universal story". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- McNary, Dave (November 5, 2013). "AFM: Julianne Moore Boards Adaptation of 'Alice' Novel (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Pacent, Nina (December 16, 2014). "A Conversation With 'Still Alice' Composer Ilan Eshkeri". Broadcast Music, Inc. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Gruber, Xaque (January 12, 2015). "The Beautiful Music of Still Alice: A Q & A With Composer Ilan Eshkeri". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Fleming, Mike Jr (September 12, 2014). "Julianne Moore Movie 'Still Alice' Headed For Awards-Season Run". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
- Setoodeh, Ramin (September 26, 2014). "'Still Alice' Lands Oscar-Qualifying Run for Julianne Moore". Variety. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- Zeitchik, Steven (March 12, 2015). "Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland on the catharsis of 'Still Alice'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
- "Still Alice (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
- Wallenstein, Andrew; Lang, Brent (November 29, 2014). "Sony's New Movies Leak Online Following Hack Attack". Variety. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- "Still Alice". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
- "Still Alice". Metacritic. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Travers, Peter (January 14, 2015). "Still Alice". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- La Salle, Mick (January 15, 2015). "'Still Alice' review: Moore gives bravura performance". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- Nashawaty, Chris (January 27, 2015). "Still Alice". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- Lacey, Liam (January 23, 2015). "Julianne Moore masters Alzheimer's disappearing act in Still Alice". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- Robey, Tim (April 10, 2015). "Still Alice: 'astonishing'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- Hughes, David (February 20, 2015). "Still Alice Review". Empire. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- Young, Deborah (September 8, 2014). "'Still Alice': Toronto Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- Turan, Kenneth (December 4, 2014). "'Still Alice' powerfully presents a mind falling to Alzheimer's". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- Debruge, Peter (September 9, 2014). "Toronto Film Review: 'Still Alice'". Variety. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- Scott, A. O. (December 4, 2014). "Losing Her Bearings in Familiar Places". The New York Times. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Lane, Anthony (January 19, 2015). "Losing Your Way". The New Yorker. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Kupecki, Josh (February 13, 2015). "Still Alice". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Roeper, Richard (January 15, 2015). "'Still Alice': Bland showcase for Julianne Moore's beautiful work". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Lee, Benjamin (February 24, 2015). "Julianne Moore wins best actress Oscar for Still Alice role". The Guardian. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
- McNary, Dave (February 22, 2015). "Julianne Moore Wins Oscar for Lead Actress". Variety. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Arnaudin, Edwin (February 11, 2015). "Julianne Moore deserves Oscar but not for 'Still Alice'". USA Today. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
- Sachs, Ben (February 3, 2015). "Julianne Moore might deserve an Oscar, but not for Still Alice". Chicago Reader. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
- "2014 EDA Awards Winners". Alliance of Women Film Journalists. January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
- Idato, Michael (February 1, 2015). "Birdman sweeps LA AACTA Awards as Chris Hemsworth named G'Day LA honouree". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- "Film in 2015". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- "Chicago critics board the 'Boyhood' bandwagon". Uproxx. December 15, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Gray, Tim (December 15, 2014). "'Birdman,' 'Grand Budapest' Top Critics Choice Awards Nominations". Variety. Archived from the original on December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
- Patches, Matt (December 15, 2014). "Reese Witherspoon squeezes into Dallas critics' 'Birdman' lovefest". Uproxx. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Graham, Adam (December 15, 2014). "Detroit critics name 'Boyhood' the year's best film". The Detroit News. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Kennedy, John R. (January 20, 2015). "Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy' wins Dorian Award". Global News. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Clarke, Donald (December 22, 2015). "The Dublin Film Critics Circle goes for Inside Out". The Irish Times. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- "2014 FFCC Award Winners". December 19, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
- Ali, Lorraine (January 11, 2015). "Golden Globes 2015: Julianne Moore wins for actress in a drama film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- "2014 Gotham Awards: Complete Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. December 1, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Couch, Aaron (November 14, 2014). "Hollywood Film Awards: Complete Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
- Luman, Betty (January 11, 2015). "'Boyhood' dominates Houston Film Critics Society Awards". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Sage, Alyssa (February 12, 2016). "'Still Alice,' 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,' 'Orange Is the New Black' and 'The Middle' Win Humanitas Prize Honors". Variety. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- "Spirit Awards 2015: Julianne Moore Wins Best Female Lead". The Hollywood Reporter. February 21, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Barraclough, Leo (May 25, 2015). "Animated Film 'Song of the Sea' Wins Top Prize at Irish Film and Television Awards". Variety. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Cline, Rich (January 19, 2015). "Boyhood is the big winner at the CC Film Awards". The Critics' Circle. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- "40th Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards". Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Yamato, Jen (January 14, 2015). "'Birdman,' 'Apes' Top 2015 Golden Reel Nominations". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
- "National Board of Review Announces 2014 Award Winners". National Board of Review. December 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
- Thompson, Anne (January 3, 2015). "The National Society of Film Critics Love 'Language'". IndieWire. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- "'Boyhood,' 'Grand Budapest' lead with 2014 online film critics nominations". Uproxx. December 8, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Patches, Matt (November 13, 2014). "Julianne Moore earns Palm Springs Film Festival's Best Actress award". Uproxx. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Gajewski, Ryan (December 14, 2014). "San Francisco Film Critics Name 'Boyhood' Best Picture". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- "2014". International Press Academy. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Hamedy, Saba (January 25, 2015). "SAG Awards 2015: Julianne Moore wins lead actress for 'Still Alice'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- "'Birdman,' 'Grand Budapest' lead St. Louis film critics nominations". Uproxx. December 11, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- "Winners of Teen Choice 2015 announced". Fox Broadcasting Company. August 16, 2015. Archived from the original on August 18, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
- "The Toronto Film Critics Association names Richard Linklater's Boyhood the Best Film of the Year". Toronto Film Critics Association. December 15, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
- Lattanzio, Ryan (December 8, 2014). "Washington DC Area Film Critics Award 'Boyhood,' 'Gone Girl,' 'Force Majeure' and More". IndieWire. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Butler, Karen (December 14, 2014). "Women film critics hail 'Still Alice,' 'Selma,' 'Homesman' as 2014's best". United Press International. Retrieved April 17, 2017.