Movie review: 'Still Mine' treats aging with dignity

July 26, 2013 

By Lynn Venhaus

For the News-Democrat

What It's About

The venerable character actor James Cromwell ("Babe") gives a virtuoso performance in the inspiring "Still Mine," as an elderly man who wants to make life easier for his dementia-afflicted wife (Genevieve Bujold), so he decides to build a smaller house. But his handiwork doesn't fit modern building codes. His dream is threatened by bureaucrats, who take him to court. Naturally, he is willing to risk jail for the woman he has loved for many years.

This is the kind of movie based on a true story that's a real crowd-pleaser. You have your fiesty independent husband, a loving but ailing wife, kids who worry about them, townsfolk who think they're either batty or brave, and hard-boiled bureaucrats not giving an inch. What's not to love?

Set in the stunningly gorgeous New Brunswick, this autumnal romance is beautifully rendered.

Performances

Ever since his Oscar nomination for 'Babe," Cromwell has appeared in a wide range of roles -- cunning villains, corporate hacks, politicians -- both slimy and noble, mentors and good old salt-of-the-earth guys.

As Craig Morrison, he anchors the film in this tour-de-fource role of a senior citizen bucking the system. Fellow seniors just might turn him into the poster boy for AARP.

Genevieve Bujold burst on the scene as Anne Bolene in 1969, earning her first Oscar nomination. Since then, she has appeared in several excellent works ("Coma," "Dead Ringers"), but she doesn't have a large body of work. However, when she is on screen, she is compelling. She allows her natural aging and wrinkles to show, and it's a brave performance.

The two are at their best here, and the film is also when it focuses on their supportive relationship.

What Works

An inspiring tale that's not as schmaltzy as you think, Cromwell and Bujold are endearing and draw the audience in with moving portrayals.

It's refreshing to see a couple portrayed authentically in their twilight years. Writer-director Michael McGowan doesn't mess with the genuine nature of the story.

What Doesn't Work

"Still Mine" follows such first-class works as "Amour" and "Away From Her," so it's not original. Nevertheless, it's not like movies have a quota about only so many movies a year with senior citizens as the focus.

Attention must be paid.

3 1/2 stars out of 4

Director: Michael McGowan

Starring: James Cromwell, Genevieve Bujold, Campbell Scott, Barbara Gordon

Rated: PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief sensuality/partial nudity

Length: 1:49

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