Sunday, July 14, 2013

Still Mine

There’s not a lot of blood coursing through the veins of “Still Mine,” which stars James Cromwell and the rarely-seen-anymore Geneviève Bujold as one of those couples who’ve been married since the dawn of time.
Craig and Irene have lived and worked forever on his 2,000-acre family farm in New Brunswick. Now she’s beginning to experience un-ignorable memory lapses, and he wants to build her a new smaller house that’s easier for her to navigate and has the bay view she’s always wanted. Trouble is, after he’s already built the foundation, the town building council informs him he hasn’t procured the necessary plans and permits, and puts a stop work order on the house, which the bureaucracy-decrying Craig won’t take sitting down.

Homebuilding, lumber, and red tape don’t exactly make for gripping cinema, but I would have liked at least to feel as though I’d gotten my hands dirty. We don’t see Craig doing any of the work, not really, and while he tells the chief inspector he doesn’t want to get into a pissing contest with him and the judge he doesn’t want to put himself above the law, that’s pretty much what he does. I’m highly sympathetic to the frustration of governmental overregulation, but at the end of the day, would it have killed him to go back and start over? And once the house is erected, we never get a glimpse of that purportedly breathtaking bay view. (You’d expect a film in this setting to be far more picturesque.)

Truth is, the new house is just window dressing for a portrait of the love of a lifetime, all of which is perfectly sweet and perfectly decently acted, but the dialogue’s a little too formal and stilted, and these characters just aren’t going to linger in your memory. I like that the movie underplays Irene’s senescence – unfortunate events such as a bad fall show the Canadian decorum to take place offscreen – but at close to two hours, the squirm-in-your-seat factor gets fairly high toward the latter stages.

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