All that Canadian farmer Craig Morrison (James Cromwell), age 87, wants to do is build a little house, on his own land, without having to ask anyone’s permission. In this pitch-perfect, deeply affecting film, writer-director Michael McGowan tells the true story of what happened when Craig’s determination to build an easy-to-navigate house for his ailing wife, Irene (Geneviève Bujold), ran afoul of the local building commission. Craig is destined for a courtroom showdown, but McGowan isn’t as interested in that as he is in offering us a glimpse of a surprisingly sensual long-term marriage. Craig and Irene have been together for 61 years, have raised seven children, and still look at each other like newlyweds. “Take off your clothes, old man,” Irene commands. The Canadian-born Bujold was a movie star in the 1970s, and it’s great to see her again, more beautiful than ever, but also more expressive than in her tightly wound youth. Cromwell, giving the performance of his life, doesn’t try to soften Craig’s harsh edges, but instead makes it clear that Craig knows that Irene makes him, every single day, a better man. Without her he’s nothing, and if a new house is what will keep her close, then building codes be damned.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 10, 2013