By Joan Alperin Schwartz: All I can say is...'Beginners' had me from the moment Ewan McGregor looks deep into the eyes of his newly acquired Jack Russel Terrier and says...'Look it's lonely out here so you and I better learn how to talk to each other'. The camera does a close up on the dog and the caption on the screen reads...I understand 150 words but I don't speak any.
Get the picture. 'Beginners' written and directed by Mike Mills is one of those independent quirky films that you can't help but fall in love with. At least I did.
Oliver (Ewan McGregor) a graphic artist, goes to a party, meets a wonderfully irreverent and unpredictable actress named Anna (Melanie Laurent) They start dating and soon Oliver is in love. This makes the dog quite happy. He likes Anna and asks Oliver...'Are we married yet?'
Unfortunately, it's not that simple. This new relationship floods Oliver with memories of his recently deceased father, Hal (Christopher Plummer). Hal was a product of the conservative, homophobic, 1950's...He did what was expected of him...Got married and stayed married for 45 years.
When his wife dies, Hal...at the age of 75. decides it's time for him to come 'out of the closet' He announces to Oliver that he is gay...has always been gay...and that his wife (Oliver's mother) knew he was gay when she married him. Of course, like many women of that era, she thought she could change him.
So Hal gets a younger hot boyfriend, Andy (Goran Visnjic), buys a new wardrobe, and embraces his new gay life style full on. For the first time in his life Hal actually feels alive.
The film cuts back and forth between the past and the present. We go on Oliver and Hal's journey...One that is filled with confusion, surprises, humor, fear, illness and death. But mostly it's about beginnings, change and how deeply funny life can be even in its most serious moments.
Oliver is a man who is afraid to fully commit himself to another person and in the end...it's Oliver's memories of Hal's life that teaches him how to truly love someone.
What's really interesting is that the story of Oliver and Hal is autobiographical. Mike Mills's father came out of the closet when he was 75 after being married for 45 years. Proving it's never too late to be who you really are.
'Beginners' opens in theaters Friday, June 3, 2011. Don't miss it.