Still Alice, rated PG-13

Starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart and Kate Bosworth

Austin Family critical rating: 5 of 5 stars

Austin Family Family-Friendly rating: 4 of 5 stars

By the time you read this, Julianne Moore will likely have won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Actress for her outstanding performance in Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s Still Alice.

Although the awards focus has deservedly been on Moore’s incredible work in the movie, the entirety of Still Alice is remarkable. Alice Howland (Moore) is a 50-year-old professor who, near the opening of the film, is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. This launches a harrowing journey not only for Alice, but also for her husband John (Alec Baldwin) and her three grown children (Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish).

To complicate matters, Alice has a genetic form of the disease. Eventually, her children must decide if they want to be tested and know for certain if they will experience the same decline as their mother. The characters’ journey from the beginning of this movie to its end is amazing, considering the film’s relatively tight 100-minute running time.

Still Alice is heavy, but also refreshingly matter-of-fact. There have been other films this awards season to deal with horrendous diseases, including The Theory of Everything, but Still Alice is a better and more effective movie because it gives us a small idea of this terrible experience from the inside. We care not simply because it’s horrible, but because we see and feel it destroy someone we’ve come to love.

The entire cast will bring you to tears, but I resist calling the film a “downer,” if only because it so movingly shows us the basic goodness of a family coping with an awful experience.

Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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