Graphic Artist Mike Mills Starts Something New with Beginners

Playing an emotionally asphyxiated illustrator whose cancer-stricken dad comes out of the closet at age 75, Ewan McGregor looks positively yummy in this gay-is-OK dramedy from the distributor that brought us The Kids Are All Right. In fact, Beginners, a semi-autobiographical movie by SoCal skater-boy-turned-graphic-designer-and-filmmaker Mike Mills, has no shortage of the adorable. It opens at Coral Gables Art Cinema this weekend.

There's a Jack Russell terrier that speaks in subtitles, a French pixie

who doesn't speak at all because she has laryngitis (which eventually

gives way to an ah-dor-aw-blah accent), and a scene in which the artist

and the pixie (Melanie Laurent) go roller-skating with the dog--in an

apartment building hallway, yet!

Dying old Dad (Christopher Plummer) is cute, too, hosting a party for

his new gay friends where they all watch The Times of Harvey Milk. So

Beginners might sound insufferable, but it isn't--or at least not

completely. Mills's second feature (after Thumbsucker) has way too many

quirks for its own good, but it works--less as the tale of a hip oldster

enjoying a much-younger boyfriend (Goran Visnjic) en route to the

cemetery than as the story of an artist who, in his own way, has only

begun to come out.

--Rob Nelson

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