Still Alice and its role in raising awareness of dementia

Still Alice still

Annie from MindCare writes about the movie Still Alice…

The Oscar winning film Still Alice (2015) based on Lisa Genova’s book published in 2007 has drawn further media attention to the realities for people with living a dementia and their loved ones this year.

The film invites us into the busy life of Alice, a successful linguistics professor at the peak of her career. She appears to have it all until she is given a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 50 following growing concerns about her memory. We see how life changes for Alice and her family as her dementia progresses.

The film does not shy away from tackling this difficult subject head on by ensuring Alice’s perspective is continually at the forefront.

As Alice’s dementia progresses the film makes us aware of subtle slippages in time which can become common place to those living with dementia as the concept of time diminishes. When Alice discovers the phone she was looking for in the kitchen, she exclaims, “I was looking for that last night!” Her husband turns to his daughter and whispers, “That was a month ago.” We are given a taste of Alice’s disorientation, highlighting the experience of living with dementia and the difficulties this can cause family members.

The film’s co-writer and co-director Richard Glatzer was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease before embarking on the process of making Still Alice in 2013. The cast and crew believe his personal experience of living with a degenerative illness inspired him when directing the role of Alice. He passed away earlier this year.

Still Alice does an excellent job of highlighting the difficulties both the person with dementia and those close to them face. It is heartening that it has been seen by such a wide global audience having taken over 18 million dollars in the box office by mid-April 2015 in the US alone. I hope that the film will leave the millions who have seen it with a better understanding of and compassion for anyone affected by a dementia. In her Oscar acceptance speech Julianne Moore who plays Alice talked about the importance of raising awareness saying,

“I am thrilled that we were able to shine a light on Alzheimer’s disease. So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalised and one of the wonderful things about movies is that it makes us feel seen and not alone, and people with Alzheimer’s disease deserve to be seen so that we can find a cure.”

For those who are interested, the original book is a gripping read and a very real account of the experience of living with a dementia. It can be borrowed at most local libraries and is available in bookshops around the country.