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Age battles bureaucracy

"Still Mine” is the sort of spare,lovely, poignant film that's too rarely made these days.

Written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Michael McGowan (“Saint Ralph”)and built around touching, true performances by James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold, the film deals with love, old age and the cold drift of mortality without ever becoming overly sentimental, no easy trick.

Movie trailer: Still Mine

Craig and Irene (Cromwell and Bujold) are in their 80s, living in the big dilapidated farmhouse where they raised seven children, with the shower outside and the toilet freezing up on cold nights. Craig is still a strong, vital man, but Irene's memory is becoming an on-and-off thing.

Craig decides to build another house on his land, a smaller place in which Irene will be able to get around better. He has plenty of trees for lumber and his father was a master builder, so he has the skills. Build he does.

But then he's told he legally needs a building permit. And a blueprint. Suddenly the local building inspector is all over his project, filing complaints, making demands and insisting that Craig stop working on the house until those demands are met.

Craig meets most of the demands, but he also keeps right on building. Irene is drifting toward dementia; she's going to need a safer home. And since when can't a man build his own home on his own land?

All of which might be delivered at a sappy pitch, but McGowan keeps the showdown between bureaucracy and individual rights tempered while focusing instead on the grace and gravity of Craig and Irene's relationship.

Growing old together can't be easy, but in this case, it's certainly beautiful.

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