Why do we spend so much time in movies watching young people fall in love? Why is the wedding so often the happy ending? “Still Mine” is a beautifully performed true-life tale of a couple who have been deeply in love for 70 years. That is a love story.
James Cromwell (“Babe”) plays Craig Morrison, a flinty, taciturn, stubbornly independent man in his 90’s who is committed to caring for his wife, Irene (the exquisitely lovely Geneviève Bujold), as she is struggling with becoming forgetful. Their seven grown children are concerned, but Irene wants to stay at home and Craig is resolute. He has land and he knows how to build. When she falls down the stairs in their home, he decides he will build a new house for them on their land, something small, simple, and one-story, where he can keep her safe.
The local building authorities tell him that he is in violation of their rules. They have no reason to believe that the structure is unsafe. But they have regulations about the certification of lumber and various other check-list requirements that his home does not meet. As the movie opens, he is in court, with the judge to decide whether he will go to jail for contempt, or go home to his wife.
We then go back two years to see what has led to this court appearance, in a series of sensitively understated scenes brimming with privileged moments. It is clear that the depth tenderness between Craig and Irene is earned over a period of decades. And it is so sweetly portrayed it will make you eager to get old.
Parents should know that this movie’s themes include aging and loss. There is a sad death.
Family discussion: How should families talk about end of life issues? Do you agree with the way the Morrison’s children and grandson respond to them? What is the best way for government authorities like the building inspectors to ensure the safety of the community but give people like Craig the freedom they need?
If you like this, try: “The Straight Story” and some of the earlier films with the immensely talented Cromwell and Bujold like “Babe,” “W,” “King of Hearts,” and “Anne of the Thousand Days”