Still Mine

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on April 19, 2013

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Dear Richard Pryce
Genny Operator

Dear Richard,

This "genny" you were operating - it was a generator, and not the lovable 71-year-old Genevieve Bujold, right? Or maybe it was both. After all, getting enough power to a film set is a major challenge when shooting in remote locations. Especially when you need to keep your septuagenarian stars energized and comfortable. But some projects are worth the extra effort, and Still Mine, the true story about a stubborn rural farmer in New Brunswick, certainly qualifies. Your team went off the grid and outside the studio system to create something small and intimate, but which is also solid and beautiful. Like this story proves, sometimes that's the only way to realize a labour of love.

Still Mine could be considered the third installment of writer and director Michael McGowan's unofficial "end of life" trilogy. In both Saint Ralph (2004) and _One Week _(2008), his characters set single-minded goals to rediscover hope in the face of fragile mortality. Here we follow Craig Morrison (James Cromwell) as he attempts to build a small house for his ailing wife Irene (Genevieve Bujold) on their expansive property. It's a simple and noble quest, needlessly complicated by a constant wall of bureaucratic red tape and legal nitpicking - the most unwelcome and unnecessary kinds of power.

The film opens with a court proceeding threatening Mr. Morrison with jail-time for violating 26 building codes. I was more than a little curious what kind of dilapidated shack this old coot must have thrown together. Surely there wouldn't be any electricity and the walls must be caving in on the joint. But my curiosity would have to wait, as the film cuts back to two years earlier in the couple's original quaint country home. It's actually here where heat and power are in short supply, as the toilets freeze in the winter and a refrigerated truck for their strawberry crop in the summer is a luxury that's out of the question. Still, they enjoy a nice life and passionate romance until Irene starts to lose her memory. After suffering a few falls, Craig vows to build them a single-storey home with a proper view of the bay.

As an old-fashion handy man, he insists on doing the majority work himself and on the fly (blueprints are for sissies… ie, government inspectors). So when the work stoppage orders start getting serious, it's not only threatening the couple's future but Craig's personal identity. This is all handled with a restrained dignity that never gets played for cheap laughs or overwrought drama. Everything from the performances to the direction is handled much like the design of the house itself - modest but honourable, and genuinely well-made.

It's surprisingly powerful stuff. Congrats.



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