Taking a unique look at the life of a gay man, Mike Mills autobiographical Beginners is a fresh film with a heartwarming story. Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer are brilliantly cast as son and father, each going through a major life change as they enter a new phase of love.
After being married for 44 years, Plummer's Hal opts to leave the closet and proclaim himself a gay man. Now 75, the aging father must learn to cope with his new lifestyle, taking in the youthful, energized and festive sceneries while still being true to his age and abilities. His innocence is undeniable, his candid personality addicting, and in the end, his lasting effect on the mind of his son is what gives this film life.
Beginners is a quirky film, telling a story through flashbacks as a son reflects on the unusual life lead by his father. Though his memories are plagued by his father's late battle with cancer, his reflections are filled with both confusion and yearning sympathy. Though a big part of his father's life, McGregor's Oliver longs for a better understanding of the man, both during his marriage to his late mother and his time celebrating his homosexuality. It is this longing that gives the film heart and soul, triumphing over the story lags and proclaiming itself worth of a watch.
The fact that the story was taken from the real life of writer/director Mike Mills adds an added layer of complexity to the story. Though Mills admits to only having Plummer play a character that 'reflects' the life of his father, the film's steady pace and subdued tone give it a feeling of real life, not that of Hollywood over-glamorized actions. And while the film isn't perfect by any means, it is an interesting take on a typical story; one I suggest you check out next time you are at the cinema.