After years of stability, the lives of octogenarian couple, Craig and Irene Morrison, are slowly beginning to change. Because of changing times and regulations, they are no longer able to make a living from their small coastal New Brunswick farm. And Irene has begun to show signs of early dementia. Against the wishes of their two offspring who still reside in the area and who would like to see more standard care provided for Irene, Craig, the son of a master shipbuilder who inherited his father’s building abilities, decides to mill lumber from trees on their property and with it build a more suitable, small one story house on the property in which he and Irene can live. Beginning this project with only a design in his mind, he is encouraged by friends at least to go through the regulatory process of building permits and the like. Despite being able to complete this project to more than exacting centuries old standards, Craig ends up hitting one roadblock after another in this …
User Reviews: STILL MINE It’s funny, that for all the hubub about liberalism in Hollywood, some of the greatest achievements in cinema have been decidedly libertarian. From Chaplin’s "Modern Times" to Nicholson’s McMurtry in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" we have watched our heroes adhere to their own personal codes, battle against the inherent dehumanizing repression of the institutions we create, ostensibly to serve the public good. Our heroes don’t always win,but it always makes compelling drama.
Comes now to this cinematic tradition is the Canadian production "Still Mine" written, produced and directed by Michael McGowan which is shot in New Brunswick where the actual events on which this story is based,took place.
Craig Morrison (James Cromwell) is a remarkably robust octogenarian. Irene (Genevieve Bujold)his wife of sixty years is sinking into that long, slow descent toward the abyss that is dementia/Alzheimer’s. Craig decides that their old house is clearly unsuitable for Irene as she declines,so he decides to build a new, smaller house, on their own land, and by his own hand, since they don’t have the money to hire a contractor.
Craig embarks on his project with considerable enthusiasm, but that is soon overwhelmed by the local building code bureaucrat Rick Daigle(Jonathan Potts) who buries Craig with permits, plans, standards, and regulations. He intends to enforce those codes with the soulless tenacity of Les Miserable’s Javert.
If Craig does not correct and comply with all the violations cited (26 I believe) Daigle tells Craig that he will bulldoze the house.
"Is that a threat," says Craig
"No," says Daigle with a chilling bureaucratic assuredness, "it’s the law."
As Craig fights, haggles, and cajoles the powers that be; Craig and their grown children must watch and endure as they see their wife and mother slip ever farther away from them. This is not a dysfunctional family, it is a very close family in a community full of friends and neighbors. However, that doesn’t mean there are no conflicts, tensions and angst as together they face the difficult circumstances and decisions that lie ahead.
Those of us who saw Bujold those many years ago in "Ann of a Thousand Days", remember, aside from her obvious beauty, those expressive eyes. Now well into her 70’s without a hint of plastic surgery, she still projects the powerful inner strength that is so critical to this character; as she faces the certainty of a bleak future while still maintaining the mental wherewithal to cherish the moments she still has left. It is through those eyes that we will see the anger, the frustration, and the fear of the oncoming oblivion, but we will also see the loyalty and the love she has for her friends, her family and most of all her husband.
James Cromwell has become something of a national treasure with movies like "The Artist", "LA Confidential" and "Babe"; TV shows like "ER" and "The West Wing", the list is truly astonishing. I remember him in a commercial where he played a Marine gunnery sergeant. He looks down (he’s 6’7") at some nerdy little dude and says "Were you ever in the Corps?" The nerdy dude says "no", and with the confident arrogance of veteran Corps drill instructor Cromwell says "I didn’t think so." I don’t remember the product, but I remember him. He has that kind of presence and it is well used here.
I was struck when I walked into the theater by the possibility that I may have been the youngest guy in there, and I assure you that I am not a young man. I hope that despite the obvious tag lines that go with this movie, that this doesn’t become known as a geezer flick, because it is much more than that.
I can’t remember a movie that affected me more emotionally. It is true, as they say, I have some skin in this game, as I am growing older and I watched my own mother ravaged by this cruel and unjust disease. When Irene cries out, "What if I forget everything!? " My lips mouthed the words, "You will, you will." So it was pretty close to home, and some viewers may not have as strong a reaction as I did, but I can tell you that the audience I sat with was greatly moved.
Nevertheless, as we inexorably march toward the curing of societal ills with institutional remedy; we give scant notice to the corresponding loss of liberty, freedom, individuality, and our identity. Key elements all, in making the decisions and choices that are best for ourselves. Or they could be the worst for ourselves, but that is of no matter, the important thing is that they are our choices. Craig and the whole Morrison clan are an inspiration to remember that in times of trouble or crisis our most reliable ally to carry us through will be the faith we have in ourselves to call on our own inner strength.