Beginners | Chicago Reader


Rated R 105 minutes 2011

In his follow-up to Thumbsucker (2005), writer-director Mike Mills continues to evoke a state of perpetual adolescence: the only fears given real weight are of not being liked and of having to behave like a responsible adult. If you can overlook the sense of entitlement that makes this worldview possible, the film is quite moving for its story of a graphic artist (Ewan McGregor) cautiously attempting romance while mourning his recently deceased father (Christopher Plummer). Scenes of the romance are interlaced with flashbacks of Plummer coming out of the closet at 75, while the artist's moments of doubt trigger memories of the old man dying of cancer. Mills pulls off the nonchronological structure with uncommon sensitivity; unfortunately, he also confuses sensitivity with preciousness (recurring scenes show the hero confiding in a Jack Russell terrier). With Melanie Laurent.

Film Credits

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Director: Mike Mills

Producer: Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Miranda de Pencier, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen and Joan Scheckel

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller and Keegan Boos

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