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Mike Mills

  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2010
  • Language: English
  • Producer: Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Miranda de Pencier, Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy
  • Screenplay: Mike Mills
  • Runtime: 104
  • Programmes:

When his seventy-one-year-old father (Christopher Plummer) comes out of the closet, Oliver (Ewan McGregor) must explore the honesty of his own relationships. From the director of Thumbsucker.

AgingFamily RelationsIllness & DeathQueer InterestRomance

screening times

    • Saturday September 11
    • 9:00:00 PM
    • Sunday September 12
    • 3:00:00 PM
    • Sunday September 19
    • 9:30:00 PM

Note: indicates Premium Screening.

official description

Five years after Thumbsucker, director Mike Mills returns to the Festival with another winning indie dramedy that balances humour, sorrow and romance with aplomb.
Beginners deftly juggles two chronologies to tell the heartwarming story of two major points in the life of Oliver (Ewan McGregor), a talented illustrator.

One timeline follows the slow-burning deterioration of Oliver’s father (Christopher Plummer), who is dying of cancer. But his impending death is not the only news that has caught Oliver off guard; his divorced father, at the age of seventy-five, has also come out of the closet. Just like that, he gets a new wardrobe, a new boyfriend and an entirely new outlook on life.

Following his father’s death, a bereaved Oliver becomes somewhat of a shut-in. As Beginners takes us through his personal journey, the film flashes forward, intercutting a budding relationship between Oliver and a young French actress (Inglourious Basterd’s Mélanie Laurent) whom he meets at a costume party that he attends under duress. The twin narratives gradually reveal subtle associations about how Oliver reacts to both these unpredictable relationships, and how his father and girlfriend motivate him to surpass his self-prescribed limitations.

McGregor and Laurent have natural onscreen chemistry, and Plummer is outstanding in his rich portrayal of a dying man who is finally able to live honestly, breaking out of his shell so near the end of his life. The ensemble cast lends the film a warm, understated aura that never feels the least bit contrived.

Mills is at the top of his game in crafting dynamic mood pieces that steer clear of the usual trappings found in American independent cinema. The outcome is a thoroughly enjoyable character study about people opening up and discovering themselves despite age, preconceptions and illness.

Jane Schoettle

director bio

Mike Mills was born in Los Angeles, California and studied at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. His work as a graphic designer has been featured in gallery exhibitions in France, the Netherlands and the United States. He has directed commercials as well as music videos for artists such as Moby, Yoko Ono, Air and Everything But The Girl. His short films include Deformer (98), Paperboys (01) and The Architecture of Reassurance (99). His feature films are Thumbsucker (05), which screened at the Festival, Does Your Soul Have a Cold? (07) and Beginners (10).

full credits

Principal Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic
Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Miranda de Pencier, Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy
Kasper Tuxen
Olivier Bugge Coutté
Leslie Shatz
Roger Neill, Dave Palmer, Brian Reitzell
Production Designer:
Shane Valentino
Production Company:
Olympus Pictures/Parts & Labor
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