There is a moment in ‘Beginners’ when I felt like shaking Oliver (Ewan McGregor) to pull him out of his reverie of depression but then death is a life-altering experience and I think everyone goes through this phase while in mourning. ‘Beginners’ is a story of life, death, childhood, irreverent love, vintage moments and gay relationships. But at the core of it is a story of a father and son. If you are over thirty then you would have experienced this already, if you are not yet thirty, you are yet to experience this –change in your relationship with your parents. Fathers who haven’t had time for you when you were a kid suddenly have all the time in the world to spend with you.
Oliver’s dad is no different. He is conspicuously absent when Oliver reminiscences over his childhood while during his final days of battling with cancer, it is Oliver who takes complete care of him. Gay relationships is no surprise these days but the father coming out of his closet after his mother’s death and dating someone the same age as his son, is indeed astonishing.
It is 2003 and Oliver is trying to get over his father’s death. His father (Christopher Plummer, as brilliant as ever) deals cancer with fun and fervor. Having come out of the closet, he visits clubs, has parties with his gay friends and like any other self-respecting gay person, he wears it on his sleeve. Cut to the present and Oliver has a new and mysterious girlfriend Anna. Anna is the perfect mystery woman lover that any man can ask for and that is my biggest grouse with her character. She is wooden caricature of a mysterious French lover.
The scenes of Oliver’s childhood with his mom are both nostalgic and sad. He seems to have only his mother as company and his mom him to accompany her to art galleries. Her whimsical behavior there is left unexplained. As with Anna, the mother is left an under-developed character.
The movie works as a good montage of Oliver’s relationship with his father and the past but fails in establishing the women’s characters. Nevertheless it is a good indie movie to watch on a lazy Saturday evening.