Still Mine James Cromwell, Genevieve Bujold, Rick Roberts. Directed by Michael McGowan. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.
The Canadian indie drama Still Mine starts out like a cuddlier version of Michael Haneke’s Amour, similarly observing the everyday moments of an aging couple, just before the intrusion of an illness that upsets the balance of their lives. In this case the couple is rancher Craig (James Cromwell) and his wife Irene (Genevieve Bujold), who live a quiet life in rural New Brunswick, and the illness is Alzheimer’s, slowly robbing Irene of her memory.
Wanting to help ease his wife’s struggles, Craig resolves to build a new house, smaller and easier to navigate (and with a better view), on his land, doing all the work with his own two hands (despite being 87 years old). But the local building commission has other ideas, and they hit Craig with various fees, violations and stop-work orders for doing things the old-fashioned way instead of following bureaucratic procedure.
Based on a true story, Still Mine is sentimental and often hokey—the building inspector who thwarts Craig is a pure stereotype of a sniveling bureaucrat—but it’s a wonderful showcase for veteran character actor Cromwell, who imbues Craig with a grace and determination that goes beyond the specific beats of the story. Cromwell and Bujold have an ease and familiarity that make Craig and Irene’s marriage feel believable and lived-in, and the Canadian countryside makes for a lovely setting (the new house does indeed have a great view). Craig’s big courtroom speech at the end of the movie may inspire as many groans as tears, but the feeling behind it—and the way Cromwell expresses that feeling—is genuine and moving.