Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Still Mine

Geneviève Bujold and especially James Cromwell do much to enrich and humanize this sensitively done geezers-in-peril entry.

July 12, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1380698-Still_Mine_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Not since the glory days of Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda and Gregory Peck has there been such a stoic, rural visionary as Craig Morrison (James Cromwell), an aged but strapping specimen, bent on building a new house on his big Canadian property for his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife, Irene (Geneviève Bujold).

Unfortunately, Craig falls afoul of the local zoning board, namely a martinet named Rick (Jonathan Potts, infuriatingly good), who is forever finding fault with his materials and lack of adherence to conventional building methods and government protocol. As Irene’s condition worsens, making the need for a new, safer abode all the more critical, it all winds up in court with Craig’s lawyer (Campbell Scott, in an unnecessary, disfiguring “character” moustache) fighting the very real possibility that the house will be bulldozed and Craig sent to jail.

As plotlines go, this one is pretty slight, and writer-director Michael McGowan owes Cromwell a huge debt of gratitude for the impressive gravitas and emotional depth with which he imbues the material in Still Mine. A great, handsome camera subject with his height and aquiline profile, this solid character actor, son of that solid Hollywood actor’s director, John Cromwell—whose films contain nary a bad performance and from whom his son must have learned a thing or three—skillfully avoids making Craig a cantankerous pain-in-the-ass. The innate dignity and mordant independence with which he comports himself handily take the character out of the realm of preachy superiority. And, without making too big a deal of it, he easily convinces you of his vast love for his wife with a tenderness that possesses the one quality truly lacking in modern film these days, gallantry.

Although the encroaching mental infirmity of the aged is an important subject facing a generation of baby boomers and their parents these days, the theme would seem to have been already exhausted by the likes of Away from Her and Amour. But I preferred Still Mine to both of those films, finding it more simply human than either, while being more detailed and inhabited than the former, and less airlessly pretentious than the latter. Brendan Steacy’s lovely, crisp photography is a definite boon, and although I wish more had been done with Irene’s character, it’s always great to see the marvelous Bujold, especially as radiantly (and blessedly) unsurgically altered as she remains here. She was the best Anne Boleyn ever, and was electrifyingly good in The Trojan Women, Obsession, Coma and Choose Me, so it’s rather a shame that she only gets to delicately deteriorate here on the sidelines, while Cromwell gets all the action as The Central Man (as in blockbusters, so in indies). But those wide, childlike eyes are as brightly alert as ever and she suggests things in Irene’s past as well as a deep sensuality which make you totally understand Craig’s devotion to her.


Film Review: Still Mine

Geneviève Bujold and especially James Cromwell do much to enrich and humanize this sensitively done geezers-in-peril entry.

July 12, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1380698-Still_Mine_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Not since the glory days of Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda and Gregory Peck has there been such a stoic, rural visionary as Craig Morrison (James Cromwell), an aged but strapping specimen, bent on building a new house on his big Canadian property for his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife, Irene (Geneviève Bujold).

Unfortunately, Craig falls afoul of the local zoning board, namely a martinet named Rick (Jonathan Potts, infuriatingly good), who is forever finding fault with his materials and lack of adherence to conventional building methods and government protocol. As Irene’s condition worsens, making the need for a new, safer abode all the more critical, it all winds up in court with Craig’s lawyer (Campbell Scott, in an unnecessary, disfiguring “character” moustache) fighting the very real possibility that the house will be bulldozed and Craig sent to jail.

As plotlines go, this one is pretty slight, and writer-director Michael McGowan owes Cromwell a huge debt of gratitude for the impressive gravitas and emotional depth with which he imbues the material in Still Mine. A great, handsome camera subject with his height and aquiline profile, this solid character actor, son of that solid Hollywood actor’s director, John Cromwell—whose films contain nary a bad performance and from whom his son must have learned a thing or three—skillfully avoids making Craig a cantankerous pain-in-the-ass. The innate dignity and mordant independence with which he comports himself handily take the character out of the realm of preachy superiority. And, without making too big a deal of it, he easily convinces you of his vast love for his wife with a tenderness that possesses the one quality truly lacking in modern film these days, gallantry.

Although the encroaching mental infirmity of the aged is an important subject facing a generation of baby boomers and their parents these days, the theme would seem to have been already exhausted by the likes of Away from Her and Amour. But I preferred Still Mine to both of those films, finding it more simply human than either, while being more detailed and inhabited than the former, and less airlessly pretentious than the latter. Brendan Steacy’s lovely, crisp photography is a definite boon, and although I wish more had been done with Irene’s character, it’s always great to see the marvelous Bujold, especially as radiantly (and blessedly) unsurgically altered as she remains here. She was the best Anne Boleyn ever, and was electrifyingly good in The Trojan Women, Obsession, Coma and Choose Me, so it’s rather a shame that she only gets to delicately deteriorate here on the sidelines, while Cromwell gets all the action as The Central Man (as in blockbusters, so in indies). But those wide, childlike eyes are as brightly alert as ever and she suggests things in Irene’s past as well as a deep sensuality which make you totally understand Craig’s devotion to her.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Film Review: Magical Universe

Your interest in and tolerance of this film will largely depend on how much you can see Barbie the Doll as Barbie the Muse. More »

Film Review: All You Need Is Love

The emptily generic title gives it away: This doc is undeniably well-intentioned but basically clueless. More »

Film Review: The  ABCs of Death 2

Twenty-six short horror films by 26 different directors equals 26 ways to be disappointed. More »

Film Review: Point and Shoot

Failing to substantially plumb the larger nonfiction questions it raises, this fascinating if flawed documentary recounts the story of an American who chose to fight in the 2011 Libyan revolution. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

John Wick
Film Review: John Wick

Retired hit man seeks revenge on Russian mob in an above-average action film. More »

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here