Directed by: Mike Mills
Format: DVD from Redbox
Viewed: Saturday 12/31/2011 with my wife at home
In the mid- to late 1990s, I went through a serious Ewan McGregor phase. Most people think of him as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels. I’ve never seen those, and I don’t want to. Instead, I always think of Ewan McGregor as the hooligan in “Trainspotting,” as the naive love interest in “Brassed Off,” or as the karaoke crooner in “A Life Less Ordinary.” His early movies will always be my favorites, because he was growing up as a young actor at the same time I was growing up as a young indie film watcher.
McGregor plays a grieving son and awkward boyfriend quite beautifully in “Beginners,” a quirky and heartbreaking movie that co-stars Christopher Plummer and Mélanie Laurent. In a series of snapshot flashbacks, McGregor’s character deals with the death of his gay father in the present day, mixed with the lifelong fallout of watching his parents play their roles for 40 years in a sexless marriage. The film is directed by Mike Mills — who made striking music videos for the early work of Air and Blonde Redhead, among others — as an uncomfortable meditation on getting older, understanding family secrets, and forging your way in adult relationships. McGregor is just a couple years older than I am, and it felt to me like watching an older sibling take a difficult, real step toward a future that’s just starting.