Beginners – Plummer Plays Gay

Earlier this week I took in a showing of "Beginners," a film by Mike Mills based on his own life experience of having an elderly father "come out" as gay after his mother died.  Although everything is "fictionalized" with different names and some imagined situations, to judge by interviews with Mr. Mills the essence of the film is true to life.  As such, it makes a contribution to the ongoing development of public understanding of gay people and how our lives are intertwined with the lives of our non-gay families.

Christopher Plummer is extraordinary as the gay dad, Ewan McGregor now less so as the non-gay son who comes to understand the meaning of love and human relationships as he sees his father plunging into the "gay lifestyle" and emerging with a valued companion and circle of supportive friends.  Melanie Laurent as the young French woman with whom McGregor's character finally connects is just fine, as are the rest of the supporting cast.  The film has a quasi-documentary air about it at times, using gay history film clips and, perhaps, more voice-over narration than one would expect in a more naturalistic presentation of the story.  But this rarely gets in the way, and the lead players are so good that one becomes immerse in their story and ends up caring deeply about what happens to them.

That said, I wish the trailer for the film had been a tad less revealing.  One can view the trailer and have seen/experienced much that is good about the film.  I hope people who feel they have been sated for this experience by seeing the trailer won't be put off from seeing the film, since the cumulative effect of the entire film is worth experiencing.   And a big old thank-you to Christopher Plummer for presenting a portrayal that will rank with the best filmed portrayals of the mature gay man.

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