Beginners (R) 105 minutes B+
melancholy and the infinite sadness
Starring Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, Mélanie Laurent and Goran Visnjic.
Beginners is a semi-autobiographical film by Mike Mills (Thumbsucker). It's the story of Oliver (McGregor), a 38-year-old commitment phobe, graphic designer, who is coming to grips with his mother's death and her relationship with his father. Oliver's father, Hal (Plummer), has recently announced he's gay. This revelation is interesting but not heavy-handed. The film doesn't delve into Oliver's feelings on homosexuality because Hal has also discovered he is terminally ill. It's weighty subject matter that comes off honest, likable and bittersweet.
Also present, Oliver's commitment issues. Much of Beginners centers around his romance with a free-spirited beauty named Anna (Laurent). She too has commitment-related issues, but watching them fall in love is wonderful. Yet, Hal is ultimately the most memorable. He effects everything in the film, and is a testament to how short life can be when you miss so many opportunities. Expect more drama than comedy despite the talking dog scenes; a touch that is executed rather nicely. This one might surprise you.