Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a linguistics professor at Columbia. Her expertise is in the ability of people to communicate with each other. Fate, and irony, deal a crushing blow when Moore is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. She slowly begins to lose her ability to remember minute details and communicate with those around her.
Alice tries to keep her deteriorating condition a secret from her family and from the university. Her youngest daughter, Lydia (Kristen Stewart), has noticed changes in her mother’s behavior, but doesn’t say anything. Alice eventually tells her husband, John (Alec Baldwin), but feels he doesn’t take her condition seriously.
As her ability to function on her own fades, her family and colleagues must deal with the harsh reality that she is not the same person she was before. Alice also struggles with the fact that her disease will soon have a dire impact on her job, her life, and her family.
Still Alice takes you on the journey that those affected by early onset Alzheimer’s face. Alice knows something isn’t right, but she doesn’t know what is wrong. All she knows is little things that should come easy are becoming more difficult. When she receives her diagnosis, she does all she can to prepare for what is coming, but even that isn’t enough.
Julianne Moore gives a convincing performance. Her character, while following the stereotypical decline of someone with Alzheimer’s, never becomes a parody or joke. Her confusion and disorientation is believable. I’m torn on some of the casting choices, though. I don’t know that I buy Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin as a couple. I was also initially concerned with Kristen Stewart being in the film. I have to say, though, that this is probably her most convincing acting.
This is a heart-breaking story, as you watch someone so intelligent lose everything that makes them who they are. It is worth watching once. Just don’t expect an uplifting movie.