Beginners is a character study of Oliver (Ewan MacGregor), a sensitive artist trying to overcome his fear of commitment. We meet Oliver just after the death of his father Hal (Christopher Plummer in his Oscar-winning role). Growing up, Oliver wasn’t particularly close to Hal, and he keenly felt the disconnection between his restless, unhappy mother and cordial, distant father. But after Oliver’s mother dies, Hal comes out as gay. He tells his son, “I don’t want to be theoretically gay. I want to do something about it.”
Oliver supports Hal’s decision, quietly bemused by his father’s imperfect love affair with the much-younger Andy. Oliver has always held out for perfection in relationships, running away when they became too intimate. But watching his father living — and dying — authentically gives Oliver the impetus to try one more time with Anna, an actress with similar commitment issues.
(In addition to Ewan MacGregor and Christopher Plummer, this film also offers Cosmo the Jack Russell terrier as Arthur, and of course the dog steals every scene.)