Montreal native and showbiz legend Christopher Plummer - who unbelievably has never won an Oscar - deserves to be nominated for a best-acting Academy Award for his wonderful portrayal of a repressed gay widower who comes out of the closet at age 75 following the death of his wife of 45 years. Plummer's character then finds a young boyfriend, shocks his grown son (played by Ewan McGregor) with his new declaration of independence and finally finds real happiness before dieing of lung cancer four years later.
And it's a true story: Beginners is based on the real-life experiences of its writer-director Mike Mills.
"There is great acceptance in this film and the audience is definitely going to see that," McGregor recently told The Advocate. "My character hasn’t got any issues about his father’s homosexuality. He has to reflect back over his life with his parents and their relationship because now he realizes that things were different, but there’s certainly absolute acceptance of his father’s sexuality. His father’s incredibly happy to live his life out and openly, because being who he truly is gives him great comfort, so there wasn’t any disappointment or anger. What’s also lovely for young gay people to see in this film is how it tackles gay history in the States. There are lots of facts, details, and montages about what it might’ve been like to be a young homosexual man in the early ’50s, because our writer-director, Mike, is obviously trying to understand why his father felt the need to suppress his homosexuality."
While many gay Hollywood matinee idols remain publicly closeted, McGregor sees improvement elsewhere. "When I was at school, I didn’t know anyone in my year who was gay," he says. "'Gay' was very much used as a derogatory term for something that was stupid. My kids now go to school where there are gay people in their class, and I know some little boys in my oldest daughter’s class who are gay — and they were out at 13, 14. So we are moving forward, hopefully to the point where in 10, 15 years, or sooner, we won’t be sitting down talking about what it’s like to play gay. It’ll just be a part of a character’s makeup, which is how I’ve always thought of it. I’ve never played gay. I’ve played characters who are homosexual or bisexual men, but I’ve never approached them thinking, OK, now I’m going to play gay. Sexuality is a very important part of what makes us us, but it’s not everything."