It is the sad story of Oliver (Ewan McGregor). He’s a 38-year-old artist/illustrator living in 2003 who’s just lost his father and gained his father’s dog Arthur (Cosmo the ninth).
His father was and for the purpose of this non-linear plot is Hal (Christopher Plummer), a retired museum curator and recently out gay man.
Hal is in love with Andy (Goran Visnjic), a much younger man.
Oliver is in love with Anna (Mélanie Laurent), an actress plagued with laryngitis.
All of them (including and probably especially Arthur) are learning how to understand their world again.
We see glimpses of Oliver’s childhood, the beginning of his relationship with Anna, his life with Arthur, and the last few years of Hal’s life.
We’re told Oliver was once fun and happy, but the Oliver we see is reflective and melancholy. He’s quirky and a little bit odd, much like the plot he inhabits. He spends a lot of time philosophizing in narrative as we see pieces of his life and world, present and past. It’s interesting and insightful, but perhaps a bit overdone.
As Oliver, Ewan McGregor is thoughtful and quiet. It’s Melanie Laurent’s Anna that really brings this character as close to lively as he gets. They’re sweet and provide a more traditional look at love.
Oliver is undoubtedly meant to be the central character, our hero, protagonist, etc…his father steals the show. Which we get the impression was the case in life as well.
Christopher Plummer as Hal, a performance that has earned him a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination for “actor in a supporting role,” is beautiful.
This character is genuine and unapologetic. Here’s a man who lived 44 years of his life pretending to be something he wasn’t, but he’s not bitter or remorseful. Instead he’s funny and provocative.
His love for the new life he has discovered and created for himself is infectious. You wish you could see the world as he does, or at least that the movie could. He is as vibrant on his deathbed as he is the day he tells is son he’s gay, and Mr. Plummer delivers all of it with a dignity and honesty that resonates throughout the whole film.
Yes, this is Oliver’s story, but Hal makes it shine…with some help from Arthur.
Check out more of 2WC’s film reviews: The Crusade on Cinema