Thursday, January 19, 2012


Father-son stories represent a common thread in American cinema. A son either seeks his father’s acceptance or can be the source of his redemption. Beginners grazes these conventions but adds a new wrinkle to the narrative. Ewan McGregor plays a thirty-something artist whose father (Christopher Plummer, in a likely Oscar-winning performance) reveals that that he is gay. Much of the film is told in flashback, cutting between McGregor’s memories of his father's final years and his budding relationship with a French actress (played by the luminous Melanie Laurent). Per the title, this is a movie about learning who you are. But it is even more so about how identity is discovered, molded, and altered by and through relationships. It possesses the right amount of indie charm in telling a story of people longing to connect. Aided by strong performances, Beginners is by turns sorrowful and joyous, and one of more delightful movies released last year. (Mike Mills, 2011) ***½

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