"The measure of love is when you love without measure" says a quote. It says that love is not measured in bouquets of roses or in the lines of poetry. It is simply expressed in the devotion and in the determination to remain with your loved one. You might quietly observe this message in Michael McGowan's "Still Mine" (2012) in which, an octogenarian couples' love is tested by frailty and bureaucracy. Recently, Michael Haneke's Oscar winning "Amour" studied about an octogenarian, who were at the end of their journey, whereas, in "Still Mine", the couples live with grace and dignity, and the film ends with an uplifting message without being sentimental.
Craig Morrison (James Cromwell) is an 87 year old Canadian farmer and carpenter. He and his wife, Irene (Genevieve Bujold) have been married for 61 years and have seven grown-up children. Craig hates the word "retirement" and so keeps himself busy with the farm, enjoying a small-town life. When Irene shows signs of Alzheimer (memory loss), he decides to let go of cattle ranching and strawberry growing (he can’t afford the refrigeration required by a new law). Irene can vividly recall their courtship or any other old memories, but she loses track of the presents. Their sons and daughters think it would be best for Irene, if she was put in a nursing home.
The elderly couples who have always lived a independent and optimistic life are totally against it. To resolve all these problems, Craig takes a new project: to build two of them a new compact house (to better suit his wife, since she can't climb steps), on a pretty lake-view lot that’s part of the many acres of his farmland. Asking no one for help, Craig sets to the task with the zeal and skill of the master carpenter he’s long been (he was schooled by his shipwright father). Craig's project runs afoul, when the local planning commission finds out about the construction. Their by-the-book building inspector, Rick (Jonathan Potts) first asks Craig for the plan, then cooks up 26 violations and threatens to dismantle Craig's construction hopes.
Director Michael McGowan's movies ("One Week", "Saint Ralph") have the themes of hope, courage and perseverance. "Still Mine" has all these themes, but also wonderfully paints a portrait of a love-struck elderly couple, who just doesn't wither away in their old age. However, one of the cliche in the film is the caricature of building inspectors as bad guys (farmer versus the uncaring bureaucrats). The direction lacks the psychological depth of Haneke's "Amour." The fear and frantic state of the couples is somehow replaced by an antagonist (building inspector). Still, there are beautiful moments, in which husband and wife quietly summon up each other in the barest of glances. "Amour" was a psychologically intricate and artistic work. "Still Mine" might resonate with the general audience, because of its luminous message.
James Cromwell is a veteran and seasoned character actor. He was a kind farmer in "Babe", brooding police captain in "L.A. Confidential" and recently terrorized us in the TV series, "American Horror Story." As Craig -- in his rare leading role -- he gives a tour de performance, remaining energetic and generous. Without dialogue, Cromwell conveys his character's every irritation and doubt, all the while revealing his tenderness to Irene. With disarrayed grey hair and glistening eyes, Bujold lives the role of faltering wife. She conveys the charm and her love for Craig through the eyes -- one, we almost never see in movies about people over the age of 70. They are deeply touching as a couple, since their glances tell us lot of stories. Craig's newly constructed house far exceeds National Building Code requirements. Still, they haggle Craig to build according to accepted standard. This becomes a metaphor for wasteful disregard of the experience (which proves purer and stronger than the accepted) and personality of our elders.
If you overlook few cliches, then "Still Mine" is a rare story about true love that touches the heart with its uplifting portrait of a couple abiding a storm of troubles with fearlessness and mutual support. It is a performance-based film, which ultimately gives us pleasure and aspiration.
Still Mine -- IMDb