STILL ALICE (2014)

I was distracted from my blog about the subject of Couple Separations In Feature Films by Nicole Davis’s article in the Guardian.  (see Film And Dementias in the Guardian)

In my research about the representation of old women in feature films I had avoided viewing and sharing Still Alice because of  my fear of dementia and the excuse that Alice – linguistic professor – was not an old woman  ….a fear that I am exploring now after I have been diagnosed with dementia. 

I cried throughout the viewing not because Alice’s husband left her when she most needed him but because the film corresponded with my experience of early symptoms of the disease. The age did not matter to me ( I am 86).  I must explain here that the film follows Alice from the diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer to the last stages of the disease…. the representation of early symptoms were to me uniquely accurate…  

The reason for the separation of the couple is here reversed as it is not due to the dementia symptoms of non recognition of the loved one but from the deliberate decision of the husband needing to fulfil his career.  

Incidentally I recall reading – long before my first symptoms – Alan Bennett’s declaration  about his mother who was demented – I stopped visiting her when she stopped recognising me. I was shocked at the time because I thought  he could not possibly know how she felt.     

Coming back to Alice. She did ask her husband if they could spend a year off together before the symptoms got worse. As he would lose his own job he refused… 

This is un unusual and very upsetting representation of   an old couple’s separation. The usual reasons are financial circumstances, death, return of the past, men’s need for young women and their variations. 

The newly released Relic alerts me to a Film genre that I excluded from my interest:  the Horror Film. Yet I am forced to delve into this  by my interest in the representation of dementia.

About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
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2 Responses to STILL ALICE (2014)

  1. For a film that counters the separations in Still Alice, see Still Mine, a wonderful Canadian film about a husband’s love and respect for his wife while she deals with the effects of memory loss.

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