Oliver (played by Ewan McGregor) has had a few shocks lately – very recently his father Hal (by Christopher Plummer) has died from cancer. In the last part his life, after the the death of Oliver’s mother, Hal declared to Oliver that he was gay. Oliver’s relationship with his father didn’t get any easier after that – they are open and honest, but tentative and Oliver is uncomfortable with Hal being so active and sharing such private information with him. Alongside this situation, Oliver meets a fascinating French actress, Anna (by Melanie Laurent) at a party. She is totally different to anyone Oliver has ever known, she’s a free spirit who gradually encourages him from his grief back into the world.
The movie runs the two parallel scenarios – in the past … from Hal’s declaration to Oliver, through the illness that leads to Hal’s death – alongside the present … with Oliver’s recovery from his profound grief at losing both his parents and his developing relationship with Anna.
Christopher Plummer is wonderful as Hal, he makes such a fabulous “new” gay man and he is a refreshing type for a father. The relationship between father and son is totally believable – it’s touching and honest. However, I wasn’t so taken with the romance between Oliver and Anna – that’s not quite right somehow. Anna’s “free-spiritedness” just doesn’t seem to work and their first few dates together are just too silly because Anna doesn’t utter a single word. Ewan McGregor is great in his role, but perhaps it’s because Anna is not quite right that Melanie Laurent doesn’t come across so well – she is lovely, but still something’s not quite right there. There is also a curious commentary provided in places by Oliver’s pet dog … which adds a nicely entertaining edge to some of Oliver’s activities. Overall, Christopher Plummer is the stand out, Ewan McGregor is really great and the rest of it is okay. Directed by Mike Mills.
Post Script: Christopher Plummer won the 2012 Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Supporting Actor for his work in this role.