USA, 2010, 104 min
The 54th San Francisco International Film Festival opens with a world-class cinematic event, special guests and a festive celebration with live entertainment, dancing, food and drinks. Join the convivial throng at the Castro Theatre for a screening of Beginners, and then head to the lavish party to enjoy culinary delights from local restaurants, sophisticated cocktails and, of course, dancing. You must be 21+ to attend the party.
Seventy-five-year-old Hal has found love with a man half his age, and is overjoyed to be dancing to house music at the club. Oliver, his 38-year-old graphic artist son, is not so lucky. He’s the permanently brokenhearted veteran of short-lived affairs who is afraid to be happy even when he’s met the woman of his dreams. Thumbsucker director Mike Mills charms with this autobiographical tale inspired by his own father’s decision to come out late in life. Ewan McGregor is the son confused by, but supportive of, his father’s new lifestyle. Christopher Plummer, giving one of his finest performances, is a man determined to finally be true to himself and live life to the fullest, even in the wake of a cancer diagnosis. The story jumps nimbly back and forth through time as Oliver navigates a promising new relationship, recalls his parents’ passionless marriage and wonders at Hal’s later life as a bon vivant senior citizen refusing to give in to illness. Excellent supporting turns from Goran Visnjic and Inglourious Basterds’ Mélanie Laurent (as father and son’s respective love interests) and a “talking” Jack Russell terrier make up the lively ensemble. Stylish direction and Mills’ witty, intelligent script add to the film’s delights. This is a moving and layered work with lots of laughs and all the poignancy of a son’s love letter to his father.