“Beginners” is the story of a son, Oliver (Ewen McGregor), and his relationship with his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer) & eventual girlfriend, Anna (Melanie Laurent). Oliver’s relationship to his father is changed when Hal reveals to Oliver that he is gay after his wife has died, and further strengthened when Oliver must be there for Hal four years later as he succumbs to lung cancer. Oliver has always known his father to be an unemotional and distant man, and is changed when Hal revels in his new-found freedom. This change in Hal and Oliver’s understanding of them helps him when he meets Anna a few months after Hal passed away. Before, Oliver’s relationship always seemed predestined to failure due to Oliver’s fear of ending in a relationship similar to his parents. It is only after Oliver realized that his parents marriage was based on a lie does he understand that as long he his honest with his feelings his does not have to.
The story is not told chronologically. It jumps from the past to the present, and sometimes you do not know where you are–especially in what part of Hal’s life you are witnessing. The Writer/Director (Mike Mills) partially based the story on fact, as his father came out to him after his wife died.
The editing and look of the film are good. There is almost no musical score and the film is very quiet. Also, the film is a little too artsy and the dialogue a little contrived. On the other hand the acting is great across the board. There is not one false note from any of the leads, including Cosmo (who played Arthur the dog). Christopher Plummer gets better with age, and Melanie Laurent is an excellent & beautiful find.
Writer/Director: Mike Mills
Stars: Ewen McGregor, Christopher Plummer, & Melanie Laurent