Beginners, a new film by Mike Mills starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, and Melanie Laurent, takes place in the Los Angeles of Richard Neutra, Deco hotels, humble Spanish bungalows, and independent bookstores. It opens with septegenarian Hal Fields (Plummer) telling his son Oliver (McGregor) that he's gay. For a double-whammy, the conversation takes place on the heels of the death of his wife, who he was married to for 45 years. The complexities of modern relationships—love, obligation, change, sadness, honesty, and mourning—are explored through two different storylines: that of Hal as he embraces life as a newly outed man who is coping with terminal cancer, and that of Oliver, which takes place after Hal passes. Oliver, while struggling to overcome his father's death, learns to love from Hal's willingness to take risks and build a new life when he was so late in years. What's most remarkable about the film is that it's inspired by the experience of Mills' own father. "Beginners started when my father came out of the closet," writes Mills in his director's statement. "His hunger to completely change life was confusing, painful, very funny, and deeply inspiring."
June 8, 2011