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I started this blog as I entered my 40th year, and now firmly in my 40s, I continue to learn so much about life. I'm learning that life rarely goes according to plan and that there's something new to learn every single day, be it a subtle nudge or a smack in the face.... This is my blog about muddling through my 40s-working hard, writing a book, being an ammateur photographer, trying to exercise and eat well, endeavouring to be the world's best aunt, as well as having fun and laughing out loud every single day.

Monday, March 9, 2015

#70 Dear Rocky - Still Alice

Read Rocky's Review here.

Dear Rocky,

I'm so glad we decided to review Still Alice, but more importantly, I'm so, so glad we decided to review the book as well as the movie.

Not so long ago, I caught a short flight. I've often found that some of the best books I've read have been those chosen spontaneously at the airport and read during stop-overs and flights. Still Alice was no exception. In fact, I would go so far as to say, Still Alice is the best book I've read in the last ten years.

Big call? Well, maybe, however I fail to recall any book that penetrated my psyche the way this book did.

As the author cleverly introduces us to the symptoms and progression of early onset Alzheimer's disease through the experiences of Alice and her family, I began seriously questioning whether they were Alice's symptoms or mine! This wasn't helped by a trick played on me by a houseguest - adding an unfamiliar photo to my heavily photo-laden fridge - while I was away. I came home and noticed it early on, completely perplexed at how I had no recollection of ever seeing the photo much less pinning it to my fridge!

This book got me in, massively. It took no time at all to read it and I felt every emotion portrayed on the pages.

Needless to say, I couldn't wait for the movie version, for which of course, Julianne Moore won her Best Actress Oscar.

Can I just put it out there from the get-go. I have never been so disappointed by a movie - EVER. Well okay, maybe it's close second to the disappointment I felt by Gone Girl.

First - the casting. Who in their right mind thought that Alec Baldwin was the best choice for John? Where in the book John struggled to cope with his wife's illness and couldn't step-up when she and the family needed him to, I found him to be a little week of character, a little pathetic if I'm honest. In the movie though, Alec just oozed arrogance and I found it gave a completely different feel to that sub-plot. It's controversial and thought provoking, isn't it. What would we do if our spouse was suddenly diagnosed with a degenerative, terminal illness.

I also couldn't come at the casting of Kate Bosworth as Anna. Yes she filled the role of the high achieving oldest offspring, lawyer, perfectionist, but I found her performance cold. I didn't feel anything about Anna, and so therefore I wasn't invested in her genetic test result nor her IVF success. It wasn't the only time I didn't 'feel' during the movie. Nothing about Alec Baldwin's performance moved me either. This is why I was so disappointed. I wanted to be moved. The book had me scared and crying all over the place!

The storyline was so rich and ripe for compelling, moving performances, but I'm afraid to say that Julianne Moore's performance gave me nothing either. Nothing. Except maybe in the very, very last scene, when she could no longer talk. But no tears.

I also couldn't understand why they changed the setting for the story from Boston the NYC and why was their favourite diner now a Yogiberry?

So I've already mentioned I found the book dealt with the spousal coping scenario much more thoroughly and satisfactorily. I also thought it dealt incredibly well with the concept of genetic testing and all of the children's dilemmas regarding testing and their results. I know books have more scope to deliver background information about internal processes, but I almost felt like the film skimmed over it.

There were a couple of scenes that I could empathise with, I suppose. In the photo below, we see Alice standing in front of her psychology class about to give a lecture that she had given hundreds of times before. But she can't figure out which lecture she is supposed to give. We see her scrawling through her folders, and she doesn't have any idea which to click on. That's painful to watch from the perspective of a psychologist and a university lecturer - one of my teaching nightmares in a way.

I could also relate to the scene depicted below involving Kristen Stewart who I think was brilliantly cast and ironically, the most likeable character. In this scene, she asks her mother what it's like when she doesn't remember. I think it's poignant and human and also a question I think I'd find myself asking.

I can't believe Julianne Moore won best actress. I'm sorry because I know you wanted her to win. But for me, that performance was lacking. I think Felicity Jones did a much better job.

I'm not going to rate the film Rocky, other than to say, I clearly loved the book more!

Over to you.

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