Beginners (M) ★ ★ ★ ½

AFTER his wife’s death, museum curator Hal (Christopher Plummer) came out and shared a happy relationship with Andy (Goran Visnjic) for his remaining years.

Now Hal’s graphic designer son Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is disposing of Hal’s estate.  Hal’s Jack Russell terrier Arthur can’t go to the tip; indeed he becomes a significant supporting character in a slow-paced but intense observation of family relationships.

Oliver’s response to Hal’s coming out is more successful than his attempts to form relationships of his own.

Then he meets actress Anna (Melanie Laurent) whose home is a hotel room and whose relationship track record is similar.

Their chemistry together is initially joyous, but neither knows how to make it stick.  Dealing with that problem forms the film’s principal theme, providing profound credibility values that are a delight to watch.

Plummer, McGregor, Laurent and Arthur give impeccable service leading this structurally jumbled (but totally legible) film along an unhurried dramatic path through a sensitively-written emotional environment.

Writer/director Mike Mills has made no mistakes in creating the screenplay. The goss is that his own family experiences provided its inspiration. His second narrative feature after a small number of videos and documentaries, “Beginners” shines in his CV and offers film-goers a rewarding experience from every angle.

At Greater Union

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