Mike Mills’ execution of his second feature film is nearly flawless. The pace of this film is outstanding and the acting is superb. The plot is the only weakness of this film (which is a wee bit important). It is a semi-autobiographical tale of Mike Mills’ personal life, which, in this case, has a positive and a negative quality. Wealthy people dealing with death does not really interest me that much as a plot line for a film (exception: The Royal Tenembaums), but since there was an emotional connection with the story, Mike Mills was able to evoke truthful performances from his actors.
Christopher Plummer is exceptional as the father dying with cancer that finally announces to his son Oliver (Ewan McGregor), that he is a homosexual. Plummer should be on the Oscar’s short list for best supporting actor and Melanie Laurent, Ewan McGregor’s love interest, is on the verge of turning into a major superstar in the USA.
Its interesting to observe how this movie approaches cancer versus the Alejandro González Iñárritu film: Biutiful. Beginners deals with it in a light I’m-going-to-do-what-I-want kind of feel, while Biutiful goes with the How-will-my-family-survive-without-me tone. Well, I suppose upper-class people have less financial things to worry about compared to petty crooks such as Javier Bardem’s character in the Spanish-speaking film.
Oliver is bummed throughout the entire movie, with good reasons obviously, but life is quite kind to him. He meets a beautiful french actress named 'Anna' (Melanie Laurent), and he gets to keep his amazing job even though he consistently blows-it throughout the movie . The romance between the Anna and Oliver gets unnecessarily confusing at times and Mills could have focused more time on the relationship between Oliver and his father.
With such a small budget, this film will go far especially with Ewan McGregor as the leading man. It is an entertaining and delightful movie that warrants recognition for its direction.
SideReel Exclusive Interview with Ewan McGregor, Mike Mills and Kai Lennox