The movie ‘Still Alice’

The film ‘Still Alice’

The film ‘Still Alice’ depicts the life of a lady whose sense of self is undermined after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alice Howland, a linguistics professor, is a successful scholar, wife, and mother at the age of 50. She has everything going for her until she begins to have memory lapses. She gets lost while running on her work campus, forgets words while lecturing, can’t remember a recipe, and forgets to introduce herself to people. As Alice struggles with the prospect of total cognitive impairment, the audience is invited to accompany her on her journey and share her worries and feelings. This movie does an excellent job of bringing to light the stigma associated with mental health problems. It also helps to tackle the issue of identity in the midst of a degenerative disease that eats away at an individual.

Having a degenerative mental condition is not an easy thing to endure due to the stigma associated with it. Alice and her family had no choice but to go through this experience. The diagnosis came as a shock to everyone; especially since they are well aware of the implications. When things got tougher, Alice wished she had cancer. She prefers this terminal illness to a mental condition because it doesn’t involve being a burden to herself and her family once she can’t remember who she is. Cancer wouldn’t cause the embarrassment associated with forgetting a name or not being able to locate the bathroom in your home. The family members had to share in the experience as they offered support to their loved one. They often felt sad and suffered through inconveniences as the person they love became a shadow of her former self.

‘Still Alice’ makes it easy for anyone to imagine that someone like Alice Howland doesn’t deserve to suffer through this kind of disease. She is smart, wealthy, and has a great family. She was on her way to accomplish grander things when the disease struck. It should have happened to an unambitious person with no plans. The truth, however, is mental illness can affect any of us. It also strikes when we least expect it. This movie does a good job to bring this out so that there is awareness and people can finally demystify Alzheimer’s.

The film goes to great lengths to highlight the value of identity. Identity is an important part of an individual’s life even when they are mentally sound and healthy. In the scene where Alice is explaining to her daughter Lydia how the disease feels like, she lets us know that her whole life was defined by intellect, language, and articulation and now she can’t get hold of any of that. Her sense of identity is wiped out by this disease, and she finds this tough. Alice struggles to find something of value to hold on to. Earlier on in the movie, she records a video for future Alice instructing her to commit suicide when she gets to the point where she completely loses herself. This situation is hard for anyone to deal with and the movie does a good job to help the audience identify with her struggle. The film also lets us know that despite these struggles, Alice is still in there somewhere. There are parts of her identity that will stand. She is still a loving, caring mother and wife. This bit of the movie communicates that as human beings, we should strive to find our identity outside of things that can be wiped away in a moment’s notice such as education or a career.

In summary, ‘Still Alice’ allows the audience to empathize with a person who has Alzheimer’s. Through her point of view, we are offered a front row seat to Alice’s pain and suffering. It makes us aware that this can happen to anyone. It highlights the stigma and burden of mental illness on both the victim and his or her loved ones. It also helps us understand the struggle of identity that Alzheimer’s patients have to go through. The pain and horror of having all you’ve known your whole life wiped away progressively until there is nothing left.

Works Cited

Still Alice. Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, performances by Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Kristen Stewart, Sony Pictures Classics, 2014.

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