Review: Mike Mills’ Beginners

by Laurie Henzel

Director, writer, and graphic designer Mike Mills (whose first film was 2005’s Thumbsucker) has a new movie out June 3rd called Beginners—a beautiful film about love, death, and new beginnings. Based on Mike’s personal experiences, the story revolves around 38-year-old Oliver (played by Ewan McGregor) whose father Hal (Christopher Plummer) comes out as a homosexual at the age of 75 after his wife of 45 years passes away. Unfortunately Hal is diagnosed with cancer soon afterward, and Oliver must come to grips with not only his father’s new life as a happy, out gay man, but also with his impending death. Oliver has a sadness about him, and when he falls in love with the enigmatic Ann (Mélanie Laurent) he has to face his ambivalent feelings and fears of commitment that stem from his memories of his own parents’ relationship. Beginners is a sometimes funny, sometimes sad look at life, and because Mike is an accomplished graphic designer (famous for creating album covers for bands like Sonic Youth, the Blues Explosion, and Beastie Boys), he inserts stills, as well as clever drawings to help illustrate the story. Not to mention subtitled commentary from the point-of-view of Oliver’s dog.

I loved Beginners. It’s a quiet, emotionally telling film that plunges into the journey of one man’s personal struggles in a lovely and hopeful way.

Also, Mike Mills has a blog! Check it out here.

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