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The chair is not gay, obviously.


Beginners 
(2009)

Immensely likable and (dare I say it as it of goes hand-in-hand with mediocre) quirky sophomore effort from Mike Mills, whose Thumbsucker was similarly offbeat (although, I think, superior). Ewan McGregor (still not quite getting that US accent right, but well cast here for a change - it's a role that could be rather one-note if it didn't have someone with a natural charm) reflects on his recently deceased father (Christopher Plummer, continuing a late career renaissance) while making tentative steps towards commitment with a French actress (Melanie Laurent, delightful).

The autobiographical nature of the piece is aided by a confidential tone in McGregor's voiceover and a willingness to reinforce ideas with visual devices (such as still pictures to expand upon a point). We learn that Plummer's character came out as gay at 75, following the death of his wife, and made up for lost time in embracing the lifestyle until he too passed on. 


Plummer is wonderful, and McGregor sympathetic in a frequently reactive role. Goran Visnjic also deserves a mention as Plummer's boyfriend. "Indie" movies that go the route of character piece are often as conforming as your average Hollywood blockbuster in not coming up with anything new to say and, while this is no exception, Mills has a distinct and appealing voice.

***1/2

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