(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a poem based on memories, so in honor of a film focusing on Alzheimer’s disease, I wrote it in three progressively uncertain parts.)
I remember the house where I grew,
The hibiscus bush out to the right of the yard,
The oak tree so eager its leaves to discard,
The carpet a cringe-worthy blue.
I remember it clearly in every regard,
And I miss the old house that I knew.
I remember the house where I spent
My childhood, garnished with roses, I think,
Or was it hibiscus, a picturesque pink?
The maple tree I did resent.
I remember the rug was as purple as ink,
And that Mom wasn’t very content.
I remember a house with a tree.
A bush was nearby, with some flowers that grew.
I now want to say that I gathered a few;
And something inside was ugly.
Whose home that house was, I wish that I knew,
But failing is my memory.
MPAA rating: PG-13
Based on a 2007 novel, Still Alice is one of those laudable films that give an actor or actress the perfect outlet to prove their worthiness of an Oscar, and in this case, Julianne Moore delivered. As successful linguistics professor Alice Howland, Moore takes an unexpected Alzheimer’s diagnosis from its distressing onset to its heartbreaking end. She has the support of her husband (Alec Baldwin) and grown children (Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, and Kristen Stewart), but it’s a personal struggle that neither they nor anyone without Alzheimer’s can fully understand.
I don’t personally have any experience with Alzheimer’s (though some old age dementia) in my family, but watching the details of Alice’s everyday life provided further appreciation for her efforts to maintain her memory. She tries to keep her extensive vocabulary intact, but its loss is gradual and relentless. When she can’t remember how to navigate her own house or recognize someone she just met, both she and her family cannot help but grieve, even in a pained glance, at the decline of an accomplished woman, slipping away a day or a minute at a time. Despite an inspiring speech that triumphs despite her waning ability, by the end, her power over nothing is harrowingly pitiful.
Kristen Stewart as Alice’s free-spirited actress daughter shows she has stronger acting chops than Twilight and Snow White might indicate, but this is Moore’s film from start to finish. There is no doubt whatsoever why she won the Best Actress Academy Award and swept many similar awards. Even if it upheld the theory at the time that acting an illness was a sure way to an Oscar, Still Alice makes Alzheimer’s personal, in all its familial compassion and sorrow. It’s not a film I’d watch often, but it’s one in which everyone can find empathy.
Best line: (Alice, speaking to an Alzheimer’s conference) “And please do not think that I am suffering. I am not suffering. I am struggling. Struggling to be part of things, to stay connected to whom I was once. So, ‘live in the moment’ I tell myself. It’s really all I can do, live in the moment.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2016 S. G. Liput
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