Friday, July 19, 2013

Movie with Abe: Still Mine

Still Mine
Directed by Michael McGowan
Released July 12, 2013

A film with a title like “Still Mine” is certain to have a given type of premise. In fact, its moniker holds multiple meanings, as James Cromwell’s Craig holds on to both his marriage to a wife whose memory is fast fading and to his right to build a home with his own hands despite legal hurdles at every turn. This film is a very familiar story of a man struggling with getting old, facing problems not brought about by his health at his age but by the fact that others perceive him to be unfit and incapable of adapting to modern society.

James Cromwell, now seventy-three years old, has been working as an actor for years. His television career started in the 1970s, and he has appeared on TV in the past decade with recurring roles on series like “American Horror Story,” “24” and “Six Feet Under.” His work in film includes “L.A. Confidential,” “W.” and a handful of other well-known and less famous films. He earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1995 for playing the kindly farmer in “Babe.” Now, after so many years, he finally has the chance to anchor a film as its undeniable star.

Cromwell responds ably to that responsibility, enchanting viewers in the film’s opening moments as Craig launches into a story about baseball while he stands before a judge, on trial for violating court orders to stop construction on a new home that he started building for his wife. The film rewinds to the beginning of that ordeal, when Craig decided that he and his wife Irene, whose lucidity is inconsistent at best, need a smaller place to live where there is less chance of her getting lost or hurting herself. When he is told that he needs to apply for a permit, he goes to inquire about it, but finds all of the obstacles he must go through to get approval for his construction cumbersome and unnecessary. As expected, he starts to build anyway, prompting some to express doubt about his faculties and others to take decisive action against him to stop him from completing his project.

Cromwell infuses a great deal of emotion into this simple character, who is seen interacting on occasion with one of his many children but is otherwise defined only by the way he speaks with his wife. It is clear that their connection is unbreakable, despite her deteriorating condition. Cromwell delivers a strong lead performance, and Oscar-nominated actress Geneviève Bujold supports him ably with her heartfelt portrayal of Irene. This is not a complicated film, but much is implied and effected by the subtle turns from its lead actors. This is by no means a new idea, yet it’s a well-told and competent version of an age-old old-age story.


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