Starring: James Cromwell, Genevieve Bujold, Rick Roberts
Directed by: Michael McGowan (“One Week”)
Written by: Michael McGowan (“One Week”)

After decades of acclaim in supporting roles, veteran character actor and Oscar nominee James Cromwell (“Babe”) finally takes the lead in the new film “Still Mine.” It’s a bit unusual for an actor to get his first starring role at the age of 73, but it’s an opportunity Cromwell seizes, turning in a fantastic performance, often to the point of elevating a low-key script.

Based on a true story, “Still Mine” enters the life of farmer Craig Morrison (Cromwell) and his wife Irene (Genevieve Bujold). As Irene’s mental and physical health begins to decline, Craig decides to build a house more suitable for him and his wife. But Craig runs into trouble when a local building inspector (Rick Roberts) informs him of the red tape and codes he must abide by in building his house. With his wife’s condition worsening by the day, Craig decides to ignore the orders to stop building so he can build the house as quickly as possible, all while facing the consequences of breaking the law.

The film clearly serves as a platform for Cromwell’s performance, which is quite strong. It certainly isn’t anything flashy. There’s no big Oscar-moments or dramatic fireworks. There is, however, a certain confidence with every line delivery, subtle joke and facial expression that presumably comes from years of working on the craft. They are subtle nuances, but they add a great deal of strength to the character.  He’s particularly good in the moments where he’s coming to terms with his wife’s dementia; frequently trying to be patient, but occasionally growing frustrated. For her part, Bujold also gives a solid performance, but this is Cromwell’s film without question.

If there is anything that holds “Still Mine” back it’s a script that at times comes off as too basic. It isn’t a bad script, but there is nothing particularly profound or strong about the dialogue and there are plenty of clichéd moments that occasionally feel a little forced. Still, most of the actors do their best with the material and there are a good handful of moving moments.

While the film isn’t as dark as some of the more recent films like “Amour” or “Away From Her” that deal with dementia in relationships, there is still plenty of emotion to go around. It’s a small, quaint film that is worth a watch if only to see an extremely talented and well-respected actor get a moment in the spotlight.

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