In his seventies, Hal is a recent widower. When Hal tells his son, Oliver (pictured above), that he’s no longer content to be only theoretically gay, Oliver watches his father blossom into a man suddenly turned confident, happy, and vivacious. In a tragic turn of events, shortly after his coming out, Hal is diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
Spanning multiple timelines, Beginners focuses on Oliver’s relationship with Hal through his illness, and then, in the present, on his relationship with Anna, a new love interest. The full burden of history, from his parent’s choices to society’s hangups, press heavily upon Oliver as he attempts to find some degree of happiness for himself.
Beginners is a playful and sophisticated construction, and despite its bearing plenty of indie-genre hallmarks, it manages to sway clear of the genre’s typical emotional shortcuts. Mills employs an expository sort of film-making, evident in script and montage, that begs you cling dearly to the emotional journeys of his characters .
- Beginners (Mills 2011) @ Castro Theater #SFIFF