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Beginners

Beginners
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Sunday July 10th, 2011

In Beginners Christopher Plummer plays Hal a recently widowed 75 year old who decides to come out of the closet and pursue a same sex relationship with a much younger man (Goran Visnjic). The other "beginner" is his son, Oliver, played by Ewan McGregor, a lonely young man who's adept at reading the mind of his canine companion, Cosmo.  At a party he meets a woman (Melanie Laurent) who comments on his sad face. They start dating and even move in together but Oliver is haunted by the memory of his 4 previous failed relationships and wonders if he will do something to derail this one as well.

Writer-Director Mike Mills fashioned this film out of events in his own life. His father revealed his gay orientation at 75 and lived a gay lifestyle until his death 5 years later. Beginners is a little too much of a summer feel-good movie for me. It's a good picture with good intentions but I wish it had been edgier.

Plummer's May-December relationship with Visnjic is barely explored.  I would have preferred to see more of that and less of Ewan McGregor and Laurent who represent a fairly dull heterosexual couple struggling with the typical commitment-outside-the-bedroom issues. There's a nice supporting performance from Mary Page Keller in a small role as Oliver's deceased, eccentric mother who we see in a series of flashbacks. I would have also easily traded more of her character for less of Oliver and Cosmo's repartee.