Sunday, September 15, 2013

Still Mine (Brockway)

Still Mine

Michael McGowan (King Ralph) writes and directs the heartfelt and authentic "Still Mine", supposedly based on a true story. The drama  concerns a forthright eighty year old farmer Craig (James Cromwell) and his struggle to maintain equilibrium with his wife Irene (Geneviève Bujold) during her battle with Alzheimer's.

Although the film takes a page in tone and cinematography from "Iris" (2001), the acting of Cromwell gives his character fresh verve with real urgency as he locks horns with Canadian officials who in the manner of a Kafka novel, always seem to find trouble with him. All Craig wants to do is build a ground floor house and just when he seems to make progress, the paperclip-headed men come marching along. The house is ultimately a pine beacon of hope with Chekhov-like importance, nothing less than a scaffold to support his selfless wife as well as a safe to ensure the longevity of life at home.

Cromwell is excellent in this somewhat understated performance. Craig has a zen determination but he sometimes (and who can blame him) scarily boils over. At one point, a complete wooden wall collapses in front of him. It is a singularly emotional moment, making it quite easy to take Craig's anti-government point of view.

Geneviève Bujold is perfect as well in the body of Irene. She is neither sappy or maudlin and she even retains some silvering sensuality. This is a couple who remain close with a passionate energy even as the ax of aging appears to chip away at them.

There is some original tension given by the nosiness of  a daughter and son (Julie Stewart and Rick Roberts) and you will never see a colder bureaucrat in Mr. Daigle (Jonathan Potts) who annoyingly cites Craig for some unstamped lumber.

The best parts of "Still Mine" make a compelling rhythmic drama in keeping with "The Trial". Craig's resolute hammering becomes a race against time.  

Only in the film's next to last scene, does the plot stumble a bit with convention, as Craig gives an "I did my best as a honest man" type speech. Yet even with this tilt to the trite, Cromwell delivers a pulse and pathos that is hard to ignore.

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