There is nothing quite so tragic as the ravages of old age. Smart, able, capable people slowly lose everything they once held dear.
This heartbreaking little Canadian film – based on a true story – understands the helplessness of trying to stave off time. No matter how hard you try, little by little, it will take everything.
However, the subject, while rich, is not what makes Still Mine so special. Many films have been made poorly about elderly people – in fact the movies often treat them as jokes – so a film needs to bring more to the table than just “What a drag it is getting old.”
What makes this film so special, though, are two of the finer acting performances of the year – both by actors who rarely get a role this meaty at this point in their career.
James Cromwell has had a long run of meaty character roles since his breakout twenty years ago as the kindly farmer in Babe. (Though he had been working as a character actor for decades before.) Finally he gets a lead role worthy of his talents. As a sturdy, somewhat humorless older man (and let’s face it, no one can do that role like Cromwell) whose farming business is slowly dying and whose beloved wife is gradually losing her spark to Alzheimer’s disease, Cromwell does a masterful balancing act. His Craig Morrison is trying desperately to be strong and steady, at the same time he is tilting at windmills and feels life slipping from his control.
Even more devastating is the way-too-long missing in action Geneviève Bujold, who was one of the finest actresses of the 60s and 70s (Anne of a Thousand Days, Obsession, Another Man Another Chance, Coma). Sadly, like so many actresses, after she reached a certain age the good roles started drying up, and while she has been working semi-regularly ever since, she has not had a role this impressive since Dead Ringers in 1988.
Bujold’s take on Irene Morrison is simply heartbreaking. She shows the strong, beautiful, capable woman who was once there, at the same time she also imparts the horror as she suddenly seems to lose track of where she is, what she was talking about, who she is with. Bujold’s haunted eyes and shy confusion capture the horror of the disease in a way that words can’t.