I loved the book by Lisa Genova, so I was concerned the movie wouldn’t do the book justice, but I am happy to say it does.
Spoiler Alert 🙂
It tells the story of Alice, a 50 year old linguistics professor who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. It painfully displays the rapid progression of the disease and how it unfolds in her life. It brings to life the symptoms that we so commonly discuss: word finding difficulties, getting lost in familiar environments, difficulty recalling recent or scheduled events, misplacing common objects etc. We see Alice’s coping strategies; the sticky notes, the highlighter, the blackberry list of questions, the word games and tests and the humour to deflect from the things she just can’t remember. We can all relate to Alice; she is a colleague, a friend, a mother, a wife.
Many things struck me about this movie. In particular, the progression of the disease is largely displayed by Alice’s facial expressions and shifts in her tone of voice; you feel her anxiety when she becomes disoriented while jogging, her embarrassment when she can’t find the bathroom and her sadness at her husband’s inability to discuss the future or live in the present. She provides an unforgettable glimpse into the lived experience of Alzheimer’s when she eloquently presents at an Alzheimer’s conference. You also see what we are told remains when the disease progresses; the importance of non-verbal communication, connection and love.
This movie got me thinking about many things:
-the ethical complexities of the genetic nature of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, to test or not to test?
-the challenges of family dynamics in coping with the disease (Alice’s family members have wildly varied responses to her illness)
-the importance of planning for future care in the early stage of the disease when you are able to participate and direct
– caregiver burden and burnout
– the financial costs of care, Alice is financially secure, how do people manage without such an income?
I would love to hear what other people thought of the film…….here’s the trailer if you haven’t already seen it……