Beginners: It’s a 6

The latest indie release out this week is this quirky coming-of-age film. What makes it quirky, you ask? The people coming-of-age are all grown adults. A 30-something son has to figure out why he sabotages every relationship he is in, and his 75-year-old father needs to adjust to life as a widower—and finally, come out of the closet.

    Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is a single artist dealing with the death of his father. (That’s not a spoiler. The film jumps around quite a bit.) He has friends, but he spends most of his time with Arthur, an extremely insightful Jack Russell terrier. When he meets Anna (Melanie Laurent) at a party, his world turns upside down. She is beautiful and talented and somehow damaged in a similar way. Together, these two cynical saps try to see if they can make love work.

    Meanwhile, or rather three years earlier, Oliver’s father, Hal (Christopher Plummer), tells his son he’s gay. He begins a long-awaited journey to, as he puts it, not to be a ‘theoretical gay man.’ We also watch as dire health concerns threaten to cut that journey short.

    My biggest complaint with this film, as is the case with most films with multiple subplots: One story always is more compelling. In this case, it is the story of Hal’s coming out and subsequent battle with cancer. Plummer’s performance is incredibly moving. The problem with Anna and Oliver is that you sort of want to smack them. They have everything in life and still mope around like their dog just died. Oliver himself says it perfectly when he comments that, unlike his parents, his generation has the luxury of being allowed to feel sadness. Enough already. By the way, the dog absolutely steals the show.