BEGINNERS (Mike Mills, 2011)

Next to Mills’s only prior (2005’s forgettable Thumbsucker), this goes easier on the cutesy-quirks that have been the ruination of many an indie romance. Wish I could share the enthusiasm beyond that, but as heartfelt and well-played as it was, it still felt pretty slight. Which would matter less if Ewan McGregor’s memories of his recently deceased father Christopher Plummer (whose last few years, after outing himself aged 75, form a parallel flashback narrative intercut with the present romance) didn’t come with an at-least-half-serious potted history of the gay rights struggle attached.

I dunno, they obviously mean well; but for a film that stands or falls on human intimacy and the conveyance thereof, front-loading with overt identity politics feels a little glib/facile/juvenile/Paul Haggis. That said, the intimacy stands up pretty well; just wait for McGregor to suggest they move in together, and watch the camera staying on Laurent as she absorbs the suggestion in one of those slow reaction shots she’s so good at. Sure, I wished them well. But I wasn’t exactly lighting candles, y’know?


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