In every life there comes a point when things stop working. Maybe it’s the way you live or how you’ve always supported yourself. Maybe it’s more fundamental, and your body or mind start to give in. In the case of Craig (James Cromwell) and Irene Morrison (Genevieve Bujold), everything begins failing at once, leaving them to face the cold, hard reality of old age and changing times. Based on a true story, Still Mine is a touching account of the perils of aging and the beauty of love and perseverance.
For Craig and Irene Morrison, life on their rural Canadian farm has gone on in the same manner for decades. They grow strawberries to sell at the market in town, own a small herd of cattle, and keep to themselves in the two-story home they built when they were first married. They do things for themselves and they do them in their own way, so it comes as a shock when their pattern is disrupted. New store policy forbids the sale of produce not transported in a refrigerated truck, leaving the Morrisons with a field full of berries on their hands. The cows push through their fence, proving to be more trouble than they’re worth. And as a backdrop to the workaday problems around the farm, Irene is beginning to lose her memory. There is a kitchen fire after she forgets a potholder on the stove, and a frightening tumble down the stairs. Nothing is going right.
Seeing that their home will not serve them well for much longer, Craig reasons that he can use his new found free time and empty land to build a smaller one-story house. Without cows or strawberries to tend, he can focus his energy on the little house. He selects the spot with the best view, and starts building. When his neighbor warns that he’ll need a permit, Craig is dismissive. It’s his land, after all. But eventually he makes his way to the permit office, only to find that he’s in way over his head. They want blueprints, They want to inspect the materials. They want to know all about how, when, what, and why, and all Craig to do is wake up in the morning, walk across the field, and build.
You would think it would be easy enough to reach a compromise in this situation, or that the permit office might apply some common sense to a real life situation that doesn’t quite fit all of their policies and procedures. Craig is ordered to stop all work on the little house, and the city threatens to tear it down if he continues. He obtains a lawyer, submits himself to inspections, and still fails to meet their standards. Suddenly he finds himself locked in a battle with local government at a time when everything already seemed to be winding down and falling apart. As frustratingly stubborn as Craig can be, you can’t help feeling for his plight. He could be your father, your grandfather, your uncle, your neighbor, and indeed Craig Morrison is a real person. The fact that he triumphs over bureaucracy, the limitations of age, and time itself is a huge victory, and one we celebrate with him.