Beginners is the story of Oliver (Ewan McGregor), a man dealing with the death of both of his parents. Shortly after his mother passed away, his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer), came out of the closet at the ripe old age of 73, and finally lived the last three years of his life the way he had always wished he could, with many romantic interactions, socializing, and even political activism on the issue of gay rights. Oliver, meanwhile, has met many women but rejects them all as he looks for perfect happiness, an elusive concept.
In a series of flashbacks, all of these things are revealed, and as Oliver narrates to the viewer, talks with his father by his side at his deathbed have served to make Oliver open up to the idea of compromise as a necessary step on the path to happiness. He tries to exercise this understanding by opening himself up to a relationship with Anna, a woman whom he meets at a costume party, dressed as Charlie Chaplin and ironically communicating silently due to her laryngitis.
The two hit it off, and Oliver asks Anna to move in with him. The stress of living together proves to be too much to handle for both of them, though, and Anna moves back to New York. Shortly after, Oliver flies to the city, hoping to find her, but she isn’t home, and he ultimately returns to Los Angeles. It turns out that she’s still at her hotel there, and she comes back to his place, and the film ends with them silently contemplating continuing a relationship.
“A lovably quirky comedy-drama with a rhythm all its own.”
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“One of the most distinct pleasures of Beginners is the way it puts together fragments of someone’s life-presumably the filmmaker’s, although little does it matter-with humility, and without vying for some complete whole.”
— Slant Magazine
“The movie darts, dreams, and sometimes seems to dance. The great Plummer, meanwhile, creates an inspiring, fully rounded man in late bloom, and McGregor responds with a performance to match.”
Did You Know?
At the age of 82, Christopher Plummer’s supporting role in Beginners won him an Academy award, making him the oldest actor to have done so at that point. Much of the film is autobiographical, and is based on director Mike Mills’ experiences after his own father came out of the closet following his mother’s death. Review our Gay Themed Films Here
All pictures reproduced courtesy of Focus Features