Ever since baring her soul (and body) in Short Cuts, Robert Altman’s penetrating study of death and deceit in Los Angeles, Julianne Moore has transfixed audiences with her portrayals of aggrieved women.
There was Carol White, a ho-hum homemaker who finds herself besieged by multiple chemical sensitivity in Safe. Amber Waves, a cocaine-huffing hippie who struggles to balance motherhood and the porn lifestyle in Boogie Nights. And her devastating turn as Far From Heaven’s Cathy Whitaker, a suburban housewife in the 1950s whose idyllic world comes crashing down when she discovers that her husband is gay.
“I’m very attracted to the idea of people having a profound journey, and being able to illustrate that journey from the inside,” says Moore. “We primarily are the narrators of our own existence.”
Truth be told, there is no one better at capturing the agony and alarm of a woman in the throes of a nervous breakdown than Moore. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the character awards pundits say will bring her a longoverdue Oscar statuette is her most understated one yet.
In Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s Still Alice, Moore plays Dr. Alice Howland, a brilliant linguistics professor at Columbia University who slowly begins to lose her faculties after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. What begins as flubbed lines in lectures and forgotten keys soon devolves into forgetting her youngest daughter’s face. And through her remarkably restrained performance, Moore brings us inside Alice’s spotted mind, allowing us to feel the mental frailty of an Alzheimer’s victim.
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