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Still Mine - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Still Mine
Directing: B
Acting: A-
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+

James Cromwell has a long, and fairly distinguished, career of supporting parts -- Babe, L.A. Confidential, Six Feet Under, the list goes on -- but never before have his talents been showcased quite like they are in Still Mine. Here, he quite convincingly plays 87-year-old Craig Morrison, even though Cromwell is actually 73, a farm owner struggling with the financial implications of his wife's failing memory.

In turn, Geneviève Bujold is lovely and heartbreaking as Craig's wife, Irene, as she systematically slips further into confusion over the things she forgets.

Stories about loving elderly couples coping with dementia are hardly new. Sarah Polley gave us the equally affecting Away From Her in 2007; just this year we saw the Oscar-nominated French film Amour. What sets Still Mine apart from most other films like it is in its honest depiction not just of the husband's love, but of his frustrations as well. (Come to think of it, why do all these movies only have the woman losing her memory? Perhaps because they are twice as likely to get Alzheimer's than men.) Craig has moments where he snaps at Irene because he's just getting fed up with having to repeat himself.

Of course, there's also the broader context of this story: Craig and Irene live in a house that, the more Irene memory gets away from her, the less manageable it is to live in -- it's just too big for Craig to keep up on his own. So, assuming he can do so without any issues due to it being on his own very large tracts of land, Craig sets about building a new, smaller house. He begins the process without inspections, and it quickly gets him into trouble.

Craig is understandably bewildered by this. At seemingly every turn, the local authorities -- or truth be told, in this movie, just one particular guy -- put up bureaucratic road blocks to his finishing the house. Craig was taught how to build by a very competent father who built ships for a living, but he knows nothing about drawing up blueprints. He does what he can to appease the authorities, begrudgingly writing checks here and there, but each time he gets to a point where he can't provide the minutiae of the requirements, instead of waiting until he can, he just goes on building.

Craig is a very stubborn man, though. He seems to feel that he has to keep building in spite of the laws because he hasn't the time to wait around -- his wife is getting worse. But he refuses the offered help of any of his children. (Apparently they have seven, but we only ever see two of them.) There comes the point of the threat of the house getting bulldozed, but as Craig puts it, he gets to a point where he has to "hedge my bets."

For her part, Irene only intermittently understands all this as it's going on. When she falls down the stairs, it only proves to Craig how important it is to have a single-level house. Craig is building the house himself because he can't afford to hire someone to do it. If they have seven children, you'd think they could all pool in enough resources to help out, if only financially, but for some reason that never comes up.

If nothing else, there's a very sweet devotion between this man and woman, who have been married sixty-one years. There's also something slightly terrifying about films like this, particularly the older you get as an audience member: Could this be a glimpse into my own future? The lucky ones have a husband like Craig. Cromwell and Bujold prove that even an elderly couple can have onscreen chemistry, and counter the ridiculous stereotype that older people have no outlet for their sexuality. (That said, there's a bare-ass shot of Cromwell getting into an outdoor shower that didn't particularly seem necessary.) This is a couple with a longstanding, fulfilling and healthy relationship, and it's a lovely thing to see, if a little bittersweet -- as is the movie overall.

James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold offer some bittersweet vision of what old age could be like in STILL MINE.

Overall: B+
2 comments or Leave a comment
plantmom From: plantmom Date: August 17th, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I teared up just now, watching the trailer. My husband and I are older, 57 and 53, and I'm very aware of how people may or may not age well together. Thank you for bringing this film to my attention.

Oh, and BTW, I built my own greenhouse seven years ago, with no blueprints and no permits, although no one's ever said anything about it. I designed it, made it kinda organically, with pressure treated wood and polycarbonate glazing. I didn't try to file papers, because I honestly feared the town bureaucrats would laugh at me. Yeah, a fifty-year-old woman, building something 7 feet by 9 feet and ten feet high? Unheard of, especially in the area we live in.

So I think I understand his point of view. :-)
cinema_holic From: cinema_holic Date: August 18th, 2013 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad I could help!
2 comments or Leave a comment