Love, grief and moving on are part of Mike Mills’ 2010 film, Beginners.
Six months after the death of his mother Georgia (Mary Page Keller), Oliver’s (Ewan McGregor) 75-year-old father Hal (Christopher Plummer) reveals that he’s gay. In a short period of time, Hal finds a boyfriend, Andy (Goran Visnjic), and many gay organizations to celebrate his new life, only to die four years later. Left with a few of his family’s possessions and his dad’s dog Arthur, Oliver recalls caring for his father’s every need through his fight with cancer and their growing vulnerability as father and son grow closer. Grieving the two lives of Hal, Oliver copes with sadness, loss and tries to move on with his life. Falling for an enchanting woman named Anna (Melanie Laurent), Olivier realizes he doesn’t know how to open up about his life, and the lovers carry baggage that keeps them from a decent relationship. Memories of his life, his mother and her unhappiness in a dysfunctional marriage, and finding someone to love forces him to examine the life he’s sidestepped after such great losses.
This gentle and funny film about grief, endings and beginning is based on Mike Mills’ life after his father revealed he was gay. Flashbacks, timelines and clever dialogue create a real sense of upheaval and adjustment as the often sidelined, and quiet Olivier watches his father embrace his new life with the little time he had left. McGregor’s understated and emotional performance connects to the audience, and the late Plummer’s portrayal of a man enjoying the last years of his life in the open will pull on many a heartstring. This role would win Plummer the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2012.