Check out our review of this engaging and effecting drama about a linguistics professor and her family that find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classics - 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 101 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish
Written & Directed by: Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland based on the book by Lisa Genova
Music by: Ilan Eshkeri
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 12, 2015
"Struggle to stay connected"
Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer's disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring.
Based on the book of the same name and written/directed for the big screen by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland Still Alice is a moving and subtly powerful expose about a woman and her family that must come to grips with her deteriorating and slowly debilitating illness. I think we have all seen films that deal with this type of subject matter and while most follow the same path, what makes our favorites stand out are the performances. That holds true with Still Alice and the superb turn by Julianne Moore.
At 101 minutes the script moves right along but carefully develops the necessary plot points that allow the audience to see below the surface of the characters while correlating with the familial bonds and meaningful interpersonal exchanges that support the thematic context. I really liked the fact that there is a straight forwardness to the story that eschews overt melodrama in favor of tangible dramatic elements designed to offer a fly on the wall perspective into what it must be like for some like Alice who is faced with early onset Alzheimer’s. Coming back to Moore’s Academy Award winning performance, she delivers a wonderfully nuanced portrayal that tugs at your heartstrings but not because you feel sorry for her but because you’re inspired by her. In addition to Julianne Moore I found Kristen Stewart’s performance to be surprisingly good in support.
I have to imagine that those of us who are close to Alice’s age would easily identify with the stage of life she was at when diagnosed and how devastating it would be to someone so young. I felt that way, as did my wife, and we both found Still Alice to be an engaging, emotive and heartfelt drama that speaks to the human condition on a personal level.
Still Alice bonus features include deleted scenes and three in-depth featurettes. The first, “Directing Alice,” is a look at Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland’s unique journey to create STILL ALICE. This piece includes inspiring footage of the adapted directorial techniques used by Glatzer and Westmoreland, as Glatzer’s battle with ALS progressed while filming. The second featurette, “Finding Alice,” explores the research and time dedicated by the filmmakers and cast to create an accurate portrayal of the disease. This featurette also introduces Sandy Oltz, a woman living with early-onset Alzheimer’s, who served as a consultant and advisor to Julianne Moore. In the third featurette, composer Ilan Eshkeri discusses how Alzheimer’s has affected his life, why he was drawn to this project and the role music plays in the film.
The rating is for mature thematic material and brief language including a sexual reference.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
- DSU Rating * (non-rated element): NA
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
Still Alice comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.8 Mbps.
This a solid video presentation that offers strong resolution, lucid imagery, and appreciable delineation during close up and mid-level camera pans. The sepia toned aesthetic and limited chromatic range sets the film’s mood with a purposely reserved palette that softens primary colors. Rendering is clean and depth is appropriate. Fleshtones keep pace with the look of the rest of the film and have a balmy but natural texture. Spot on contrast yields crisp, bright whites and blacks are stable but slightly elevated which leaves them appearing less dynamic and occasionally flat. I didn’t see this as a problem based upon the visual style of the film. This is a pristine encoding that showed no obvious signs of video related artifacts or anomalies.
The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack is above average for a dialogue driven film like this and features lively dynamics, clearly articulated dialogue, in an open sounding and airy presentation. The film’s music is spread over the entire system with primary instrumental focus being delivered by the front three channels with ambient extension bled to the surround speakers. I thought this surround mix was perfectly suited for the film and sounded wonderful.
- (HD) 3 deleted scenes
- (HD) Directing Alice – 8 minute featurette
- (HD) Finding Alice- 9 minute featurette
- (HD) Interview with composer Ilan Eshkeri – 6 minutes
- (HD) Trailer
- Digital HD Copy
Based on the book of the same name and written/directed for the big screen by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland Still Alice is a moving and subtly powerful expose about a woman and her family that must come to grips with her deteriorating and slowly debilitating illness. Spearheaded by the Academy Award winning performance by Julianne Moore it is an engaging, emotive and heartfelt drama that speaks to the human condition on a personal level. Still Alice comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video mated with a decent supplemental package that includes background on the filmmakers and processes that brought the book to life. Still Alice is a compelling and worthwhile film that comes highly recommended.
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