In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_mv5bmtq1mze4mte3of5bml5banbnxkftztgwotcyndm3nte_._v1__sx1216_sy640_

Amy

Sometimes, it feels as if we are eavesdropping on day-to-day conversations rather than just hearing the usual litany of platitudes and regrets.

Thumb_large_nxcfdsanskih09xq74fjnyhw4g0

Stray Dog

"Stray Dog" largely succeeds because Granik's technique complements her subject. Both he and the film are modest in their goals and cherish the value of…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Still Mine

Still Mine Movie Review
  |  

"Still Mine" earns points simply for being a welcome respite in a summer movie season that is extremely loud and incredibly gauche.

Here is a film about real grownups, that is anything but fast (although its true story is calculated to make you furious), and whose main character, Craig Morrison, is the real iron man, or more accurately, iron-willed man. Morrison (James Cromwell) is an 87-year-old New Brunswick farmer determined to build by himself a more navigable home on his own land for himself and his cherished wife of 61 years, Irene (Genevieve Bujold), who is inexorably sliding into dementia.

That last bit might be a turn-off for filmgoers wishing to spare themselves further "Amour"-type anguish, but "Still Mine," though not without its wrenching moments, takes its cue more from "Field of Dreams" as the indomitable Morrison grapples with his wife's worsening condition, the concern of his confounded but supportive adult children, and the maddeningly by-the-book building commissioner, who slaps Morrison, an experienced, old-school home builder, with a stop-work notice until he presents the requisite permits and blueprints. The fact that Morrison's work exceeds local standards does not sway him, and he threatens to bulldoze the structure. "Is that a threat," Morrison acts. "It's the law," he responds.

"Still Mine" will perhaps resonate most with seniors whom Hollywood generally ignores, but who loyally support films that feature their peers in starring roles and tell relatable stories. This is not quite the feel-good romp that was "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," but neither is it "Away from Her," either. It thoughtfully and deliberately presents both the pride and perils of aging in a story that recalls the classic Capra-esque battle of wills between an ordinary, principled man vs. the system. ("There's some kind of regulation for everything these days," Morrison shrugs when told that a local distributor will no longer buy his strawberries because they weren't delivered in a refrigerated truck).

Writer-director Michael McGowan admirably shucks away the corn, though, and resists turning Morrison into an eccentric coot spouting folksy aphorisms (Morrison served as a consultant on the film).

And Cromwell, 73, a veteran character actor, is just the man for the job. He is a towering, dignified, presence and his performance, among his best in a near-40-year career, gives "Still Mine" a solid foundation. McGowan affords him some Oscar-clip speeches, but Cromwell resists showboating Morrison's impassioned responses to the unyielding building commissioner in defense of the soundness of his work and to a judge poised to cite him for contempt in the climactic courtroom confrontation.

Cromwell works wonders with the simplest gestures, as in one touching scene in which his calloused fingers trace over a lifetime of markings, dents and scratches on the family dinner table he crafted. Nor does he sand down Morrison's rougher edges. In the early going, he raises his voice impatiently when Irene initially shows increasing signs of forgetfulness and leaves an oven mitt on the stove.

Bujold, 71, who first charmed American audiences as one of the asylum inmates in Philip de Broca's 1966 cult classic antiwar comedy, "King of Hearts," is as ever radiant, and eloquently portrays both her undying passion for her husband ("Take off your clothes, old man," she commands early on), and her panic at her now unreliable memory.

Some of the writing is trite ("Age is an abstraction, not a strait-jacket," Morrison proclaims) but Cromwell and Bujold, without artifice or vanity (yes there are wrinkles, yes, there is nudity) embody the essence of a couple devoted to the land and to each other.

Popular Blog Posts

Why Can't Sad Be Fat?

A rebuttal to Joni Edelman's piece on "Inside Out."

The Unloved, Part 19: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

The July 2015 edition of The Unloved looks at Andrew Dominik's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert...

Sex Symbol Without Auteur: The Strange Case of the Gina Lollobrigida Filmography

Three films starring Gina Lollobrigida have been released on Blu-ray; Glenn Kenny looks at them and her entire career.

“Scream” and “Zoo” Seek to Raise the Summer TV Body Count

MTV's Scream and CBS's Zoo premiere tonight. One is worth your time. Which one?

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus