Memory loss creates memorable role

Eight films have been nominated for the best film in the 2015 Academy Awards.
Only two, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood, were released for New Zealand audiences well
before the end of last year. Whiplash turned up in October, while the rest have only arrived in the past few weeks.
This skews the choice for filmgoers who would prefer to have recognised top-notch films to be
more evenly spread during the year.

Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore star in a scene from the movie Still Alice. (CNS photo)

Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore star in a scene from the movie Still Alice. (CNS photo)

The cynical might suggest those voting for the awards, which number several thousand employed in the film industry worldwide, have short memories and therefore are more likely to
favour what they last saw.
But the custom has become so entrenched that releasing a film at any other time of the year will inhibit its Oscar-winning chances.
The rushed release of Oscar films at the height of the New Zealand summer is also not likely
to achieve their full commercial potential, such is the number competing for audiences.
Fortunately, this didn’t happen for the top New Zealand films released last year. All were screened well before Christmas and three — What We Did in the Shadows, The Dark Horse and Dead Lands — were critical and box offices successes. In fact, they together sold tickets worth $5 million, a highly respectable figure when total cinema receipts reached
$140 million.
It is likely if Still Alice (Roadshow) were released a few months ago instead of being up against the eight Oscar contenders, it would have better found a larger and more appreciative audience.
Although not nominated for best film, Still Alice features Julianne Moore’s performance as a
linguistic professor who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
She is the top pick for best actress and a win would be thoroughly deserved, as films in this
genre are often dismissed as sentimental rubbish. Yet consider some recent ones: Hilary Swank in You’re Not You (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease); The Fault in Our Stars, and 50/50
(cancer); Still Mine and Lovely Still (dementia); Michael Haneke’s Amour (stroke) and Dallas Buyers Club (Aids).
Most explored mind or body failure in sensitive and knowledgable ways, putting as much
emphasis on the sufferer as well as those who care for them.
Until now, Still Alice, based on a novel by Lisa Genova, is rare because Moore’s character is articulate and records the slow loss of her memory.
In the film’s most startling scene, the two Alices come face-to- face when she views a video of herself made months earlier.
This technique switches the focus away from her immediate family and friends to an understanding of how the disease works.
Apart from Moore’s acting, the co-writer-director team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland have pulled off a remarkable feat in their first major feature.
Glatzer himself has a degenerative condition, adding to the film’s authenticity.
This is a must film for anyone interested in a superb performance in a role that will long be
Rating: Mature audiences (offensive language); 104 minutes.

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Nevil Gibson

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