It was in 1955 that Allen Ginsberg launched his full blown attack on US post war bourgeois conformity and celebration of his own sexuality as a gay man in the form of his iconic poem, Howl. A turning point in gay politics and a precursor to the Sixties youth generation, there was a new agenda, the first hint at an alternative lifestyle outside Eisenhower’s ultraconservatism.
It was in the same year also that a gay art gallery director married a part Jewish refugee in Mike Mills’ semi-autobiographical second feature. This was the other side of the coin from Ginsberg’s new beginnings & Harvey Milk’s subsequent liberation, a marriage of conformist deceit that suppressed his sexuality and subsumed her ethnicity. He loved his wife but as a companion, a soul mate perhaps and would secretly check out the male talent at parties from a discreet distance.
His ‘beginnings’ came 44 years later as a new widower coming out and fully embracing a gay lifestyle, gay pride and a new ‘non-exclusive’ young lover all at the age of 75, an extraordinary release of half a century of identity frustration. There is a fairy tale quality to his new found happiness, more enchantment than euphoria and it continued for four years until Father Time summoned the endgame.
We see all of this in retrospect, through flashbacks from the perspective of his son, Oliver whom we first encounter clearing out his father’s effects. Oliver is the filmmaker at an earlier time as a graphic designer and he shares the grieving process with his new girlfriend, a French actress. In a great gag, they meet at a fancy dress party where he does a solid job impersonating Sigmund Freud who would have had a field day applying the Oedipus complex to Oliver’s assortment of childhood memories where nothing is as it seems.
Moving are the scenes of the father continuing regardless of his diagnosis with cancer. Played superbly by Christopher Plummer, he retains a plausible joy that convinces us that he is genuinely living for the moment. A warmth develops between father and son, another new beginning that hints at the years lost to the suffocating impact of repression.
Very good also is Ewan McGregor as Oliver struggling to overcome an inherent pessimism and a destructive unease when his own relationships develop. We hope that his final years with his father will help but there are no guarantees.
And often stealing a scene, upstaging the rest of the cast in time honoured outrageous fashion is a particularly cute Jack Russell terrier whom Oliver inherited from his father. Subtitles recording the dog’s knowing responses to his new owner’s pretentious asides had no difficulty inducing nervous laughter from pet lovers in the audience.buy cialis super active onlinegeneric cialis canadian pharmacyfluoxetine drug interactionsssri for ocdfluoxetine insomniafluoxetine indications
Quirky, heartfelt and deeply personal filmmaking with some serious issues of social control at its core.