Movie vs. Book: Still Alice

It takes a lot for a brilliant college professor like Alice Howland to forget her words in the midst of a big speech. But she does. It takes even more for her to get lost just blocks from her home in the middle of her regular run. But she does. It’s then that Alice decides to go for testing. And it’s then — at the ripe age of 49 — that Alice learns she is suffering from early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. It doesn’t feel like suffering then. But it does soon, after she clues in her husband and three grown children.

Still Alice tells the story of Alice and her family as they cope with the disease over the next few months. Two of Alice’s children use that time to take a test to determine whether they have the gene associated with the disease — one does, one does not. Alice’s husband spends a lot of that time away from Alice. Her youngest daughter is the one that uses this time to get to know her mother, especially since their relationship has always been somewhat strained.

The movie Still Alice does not stray far from the book. In fact, the way it’s filmed beautifully parallels the way the book is written. In the book, author Lisa Genova writes from Alice’s point of view. As the novel continues, the writing becomes more and more disorganized and confusing to keep in line with Alice’s brain and the effect Alzheimer’s has on it. In much the same way, part of the movie includes blurry, hazed shots — to help show what things look like through Alice’s mind. The movie also becomes disorganized toward the end. Certain plot points are not told to the viewer. We, instead, must figure it out ourselves, similar to the way an Alzheimer’s patient who can’t make sense of things would have to do. It’s messy. There are gaps in time. But that’s what it’s like inside the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient.

It goes without saying that Julianne Moore’s performance as Alice is both breathtaking and heartbreaking. She portrays that hazy glaze effortlessly — showing that Alzheimer’s is much more than just forgetfulness; it’s a state of desperate confusion and incapability to understand. It is difficult to see onscreen how careless some of her family members are, and Alice’s oldest daughter (Kate Bosworth) and husband (Alec Baldwin) portray that well. However, in the book, her husband does a lot of research on Alzheimer’s and still has a hard time coping. In the movie, we don’t see any of the research or willingness to try to understand. We mostly see her husband giving up on trying altogether.

But what both the movie and book have in common is the power to raise awareness, the power to make us feel, and the power to — hopefully — make a change.

Get Still Alice in paperback for 2.97.

Or on your Kindle for $6.99.


Filed under Movie vs. Book

9 responses to “Movie vs. Book: Still Alice

  1. Annia

    I loved your words about SA. Did you liked Kristen Stewart’s perfomance? Lydia was my favorite character in the book and I think KS did a beautiful job.

    • Yes! Kristen Stewart was great in the movie! Love her character.

    • sue

      I agree! I loved that Lydia only wanted to be accepted for who she was (acting instead of following the norm and going to college) and in the end was the one that had the most success connecting with her mother and ultimately taking care of her. Accepting her for who she was.

  2. sue

    Do you know why Alice is a Professor at Harvard in the book and they live in Cambridge but in the movie she works at Columbia and they live in Manhattan?

  3. Pat Rader

    I’ve read the book three times and plan on reading it again. The movie left out some very important scenes as when her husband reads about the failed drug trial and starts sobbing. That scene was one of the best in the book. Don’t know why it was left out of the movie.

  4. Cori

    I read the book first and thought it was fantastic!! Loved it. I couldn’t wait to see the movie.
    The movie was very disappointing.

    It left out about 90% of the book, the important details of what she was thinking, episodes she was experiencing, many embarrassing moments that happened in front of others. Many crucial parts of the book were not in the film. The movie was a mere index of what the story was truly about. It felt very rushed.
    Had the director used a narrator to communicate and express what she was thinking it would have given a better window to the viewers into her mind on what she was experiencing at the time. The movie did not do the the story justice.

    If you already saw the movie, I recommend that you definitely still read the book. It’s very well written, a page turner. You won’t want to put it down.

    • Pat Rader

      I agree. I read the book four times – I loved it so much. The movie left out so much. I especially hated that they left out the part where the husband read in the paper that the trial had been a failure!!

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