Ewan McGregor plays Oliver Fields who first has to deal with his mother's death, and then shortly after his father Hal (played by Christopher Plummer) tells his son he is gay and has been gay even though married for many years to his mother. Hal comes out and joins all the seniors in the gay community and even finds a young lover. But then he gets diagnosed with lung cancer. Oliver gets to know his father really closely for the first time in his life. He tries to help his father cope and becomes friends with his father's lover Andy (played by Goran Visnjic) then he helps his father as he lays sick in the hospital. His father has terminal cancer. He goes home to make the best of what life he has left.
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Oliver is a bit of a loner. After his father dies, Oliver inherits his father's Jack Russell terrier dog, Arthur, that he cannot leave alone because the dog starts to cry, so Oliver takes the dog everywhere with him. His friends invite him to a costume party. He goes as Freud bringing the dog along as well. He meets a young woman, Anna (played by Melanie Laurent) at the party who is dressed as Charlie Chaplin. She cannot speak because she has a case of laryngitis. She communicates with Oliver using a note pad and they fall for each other.
Anna and Oliver get to know each other better when she has recovered her voice and can speak. Anna's father constantly tries to reach her on the telephone which drives her crazy. Oliver is fearful of letting Anna into his life but they decide to move in with each other. Oliver tries to impress her with his graffiti writing. They go to a roller rink and get thrown out for having the dog with them, so they steal the skates and skate home together. They try to get along but they both carry enormous loads of emotional baggage which interferes with the capability to have a normal relationship. The pressures of living together are too much and they break up. Oliver keeps reminiscing about his childhood and wonders how his parents could stay together for so many years. Oliver is a graphic artist and makes a set of drawings about the history of sadness. Anna leaves him without warning.
Oliver takes Arthur to Andy's house and it is the first place where the dog can be left without crying. Oliver searches for Anna by going to her apartment in New York. But she is not there. She is in Los Angeles. He calls her from his mobile phone in front of her New York apartment door. She tells him where a hidden key is located. He lets himself in. She gives him a tour of the apartment over the phone and asks him why he let her go. After this Anna returns to him. She and Oliver read the personal ad written by Oliver's father that he used to finally find the love of his life in Andy. Anna and Oliver still do not know exactly what to do about being in love.
Best part of story, including ending:
This movie is interesting because it explores both sexuality and love. There is a sweet and also sad exploration into intimacy and there are no clear pathways for anyone to follow.
Best scene in story:
I like the scene with Oliver paints some graffiti on a big blank billboard that says “I tried to make you laugh but it's not funny.” he is doing this to impress his girlfriend Anna, but she is not even watching him. It shows just how futile it is to try to be the kind of person that you think the other person wants, instead of just being yourself.
Opinion about the main character:
Oliver is a confused but gentle soul and we hope at the end that he has found himself.