Chances are the one-time plight of now-deceased Canadian resident Craig Morrison eluded you back in the day. Back in 2007, an 88-year-old Morrison staked out a plot of land on his own property to construct a new single-story house so that he could take better care of his wife Irene, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. But building a home for he and his wife on their own land proved to not be as easy as he remembered it being: not because of his age or the work, but due to the fact that a building inspector began to cite Morrison for one thing after another, which lead to a cold war between a simple, old fashioned man and a modern bureaucracy that was seemingly devoid of logic or understanding.
And it is within the confines of the Canadian romantic drama Still Mine (aka Still) that we can witness the fictionalized account of this tale for ourselves. Here, the always magnificent James Cromwell ages a good ten-plus years to play a more-than-able-bodied 87-year-old Craig Morrison – a man of the country who is no longer able to sell his goods to local companies on account of new health regulations, and whose predicament increases when his wife Irene – as played by the one and only Geneviève Bujold – begins to show signs of Alzheimer’s. Frustrated with Irene’s mental dizziness as well as their own surroundings – which now no longer suit them – Craig starts to build a simple house on their 2,000 acre property.
When his lifelong friend/rival Chester (George R. Robertson) points out he needs a permit to legally do the work he has already started, Craig inadvertently begins a war with a zealous building inspector (Jonathan Potts, whom I remembered from a brief stint on Queer As Folk more than anything for some reason) who begins to cite our elderly hero for every little thing because of dreaded regulations. Campbell Scott and his ‘stache represent the bulk of Cromwell’s legal counsel, Barbara Gordon (no, not Batgirl) is a concerned neighbor, while Julie Stewart and short film Relax, I’m from the Future stars Rick Roberts and Zachary Bennett play the only featured adult aspect of an otherwise extensive Morrison family, who are presented as being so eager to place their matriarch away in a home, that writer/director Michael McGowan never shows them onscreen with their movie mother.
But it’s the film’s two major leads – Bujold and especially Cromwell – who carry the carefully ensure this minor project is built to code here (sorry). Bujold goes from being sharp and shrewd to far, far away with great confidence, while Cromwell seems to revel in getting a powerful dramatic role for a change as opposed to starring alongside a talking pig. Really, how many of us loved him on Six Feet Under, too? And does anyone else think he and Clint Eastwood would be perfect for a remake of The Cheyenne Social Club? And did I mention Cromwell gets buck naked in this film, too? Oh, my. OK, I’m getting off-topic here, back to Still Mine, kids.
Receiving multiple nominations in its native Canada, Still Mine sadly went largely ignored in the U.S., where we prefer to watch young, attractive, aesthetically pleasing performers who can’t act instead of old folks who actually can – especially when it comes to the element of romance. The average American audience doesn’t want to witness old people gettin’ it on or seeing their commitment of “in sickness and in health” in full force as they prepare for that inevitable “till death do us part” aspect of things, so with a title like Still Mine, most of us have to wait for a home video release. 20th Century Fox brings us a beautiful transfer of this digitally shot indie drama, and the disc’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack delivers admirably.
Sadly, the lack of a wide release means a lack of special materials, too. Still Mine is a barebones affair, with not even an EPK piece to further entertain viewers after the feature film has ended. Instead, the disc plays a generalized assortment of “family-friendly” flicks available from Fox that include will probably just insult you more than anything (because Walmart shoppers are no doubt going to be beating each other to death to get their hands on Still Mine!).
Oh well, it’s still a good movie just the same. Recommended.