COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 45min

STARRING: Ewan McGregor, Mélanie Laurent, Christopher Plummer, Goran Visnjic

Starting over: from left, Plummer and McGregor

Writer-director Mike Mills obviously loved his father very much: his wise, wry and quirky movie, inspired by his dad’s final years, is a sustained act of devotion. Hal (Plummer) is 75 when his wife (Mary Page Keller as a young woman) dies of cancer. Although married for decades, he immediately and vigorously comes out as a gay man — a development his 38-year-old artist son Oliver (McGregor) did not see coming.


Five years later, Hal is claimed by cancer himself. But what years they are! Gay Hal knows how to have a good time, with a far younger boyfriend (Visnjic) and a recharged outlook. After he dies, his gift to Oliver is the memories of how he embraced his new reality. Struggling in a relationship with French actress Anna (Laurent), Oliver could use that spirit himself.


Mills (Thumbsucker) goes back and forth in the telling of a tale in which his father looms jubilantly large, cancer be damned. The mosaic-like texture he creates is fitting for a man whose vibrant presence lingers even in death. For while loss and sorrow are a part of Mills’s story, in no way do they define it. Above all, Beginners is about going forward.