Before I even read a word about Mike Mills’ new film “Beginners,” I had a feeling it was based on his own life. The film’s too heartfelt, too truthful not to come from a deeply personal place. And sure enough, Mills’ own father came out of the closet as a 75-year-old widower and enjoyed five years of gay life before passing away, just like Oliver’s (Ewan McGregor) father Hal (Christopher Plummer) does in the film. “Beginners” is a sweet and sad portrait of love, loss, grieving, and healing, and it cuts back and forth between past and present in a way that very effectively mimics the way moments in our lives dredge up moments from our memories.
Mills and I chatted about why he wanted to tell this autobiographical story, what it’s like to cast someone to play yourself, and how to deal with a dog with separation anxiety issues (like the adorable Jack Russell Oliver inherits in the film, and like the dogs Mills and I have in real life). At the end of the interview, you’ll also hear us discuss Mills’ blog for the film, which is filled with weird pictures and YouTube videos and is totally fantastic. You can find that right here. “Beginners” opens in select cities on June 3.