“I wish I had cancer!” says linguistics professor Alice Howland shortly after being diagnosed with early onset alzheimer’s. It seems a shocking thing to say, but what this movie does so successfully is illustrate the frustration behind the remark. After all, cancer sufferers are percieved as heroic: they fight the desease and either win or lose, and they keep their dignity. Alzheimers on the other hand seems to carry a stigma. We tend to visualize drooling geriatrics staring vacuously into space. And as if to reinfore that vision, Alice visits a home for people with advanced Alzheimers’s and sees just such a vision and a terrifying ilustration of where she is inevitably headed.
Sadly, co-director and writer Richard Glatzer died a couple of weeks ago from complications associated with ALS. This intelligent and unhistrionic adaptaion of Lisa Genova’s novel is a fitting epitaph.