What a heartbreakingly great performance by Julianne Moore in a film that bravely eschewed Hollywood sentimentality and dramatics to deliver a poignant and touching story on one woman's struggles and her journey through (early-onset) Alzheimer's disease.
Directors/Writers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland adapted Lisa Genova's novel into a heartfelt story of the decline of an intelligent woman struck with early onset Alzheimer's. They focused on her journey and relegated the support by her family into the background. Such that, we are only purvey to her struggles and not how it affects the people around her, and consequently, how that affects her as a patient.
Nonetheless, Moore was astounding in displaying her internal struggles and spectacularly disappeared into her role. As her character slowly fades away through the course of 101 minutes, Moore also lost more and more herself. A vanity-free performance that highlighted why she is the Actress to beat this year.
Alec Baldwin was a solid partner for Moore, however, his character lacked depth and Baldwin was not able to get pass that one-dimensional aspect.
Surprisingly, or not surprisingly depending on which camp you are in, Kirsten Stewart was the other actor that stood out. She stood her ground opposite Moore and displayed depth and sincerity in her portrayal of the prodigal daughter. Her final scene with Moore was equally poignant and touching for both actresses. Side note: Stewart now has been the screen daughter of two onscreen Clarice Starling.
Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish are the other two disturbingly good looking children who really served not much purpose other than to provide comparison with Stewart's non-conforming daughter. A missed opportunity by Glatzer and Westmoreland to explore the complicated feelings a mother would feel on passing a genetic disease down to her children. That would have been more fodder for Moore.
This film was a showcase for Moore and illustrated the struggles of someone with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. However, for a more holistic cinematic exploration of dementia, nothing still beats Sarah Polley's Away From Her back in 2006, where Julie Christie was also nominated for an Oscar for her heart-wrenching portrayal of an elderly woman with dementia (that year, the Oscar was won by Marion Cotillard for La Vie En Rose).