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Dr. Alice Howland is an intelligent, respected linguistics professor and researcher. She has just celebrated her fiftieth birthday, and she has a loving marriage and adult children who have embarked on their own lives and relationships. She is also starting to forget some things.

While it’s normal to have more trouble summoning up the word you want as you get older, her difficulties are out of the ordinary. And in Alice’s field, words and expression are extremely important. When she gets disoriented on a routine run, she suspects there is more to her trouble than the usual aging process.

As Alice declines, she fights to hold on to the moments of love and laughter with her family as long as she can, even as she mourns the fact that eventually she will lose that connection. The family relationships, for the most part, feel very real, especially her interactions with her daughters.

Julianne Moore is fantastic in her Best Actress Oscar-winning performance as Alice. Her performance saves the movie from being the tragedy-of-the-week story that it might have been. She plays Alice with strength and grace as well as the fear and sadness that comes with a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s. It is a subtle portrayal that seems both honest and compassionate, and she gives a human side to a disease that many of us avoid thinking about.

Still Alice is both painful to watch and affirming of human dignity even in the face of devastating disease. On disc now. (Sony)

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