Ewan McGregor (“I Love You Phillip Morris”) has one of those faces that constantly exudes joy. “Beginners” is a descent into a man’s ambling days in NYC, and enters his life through simple motions — padding around his apartment, finding out his father is gay, speaking to a dog that never responds.



More two-bit scenes feature picturesque shots of a bluesy night sky dotted with stars and fireworks lingering in the dusk before McGregor and his girlfriend, played by the lovely Melanie Laurent (“Inglourious Basterds”), roller skate in an ornate museum as jazz trombones seethe in the wings. The film leaks an Old World baroqueness not found in today’s jump cuts and CGI-laden graphics.

Though director Mike Mills only has but a few credits to his name, “Beginners” doesn’t seem like a freshman effort. Rather, there is one auteur’s stamp that looms in the background: Woody Allen’s. With all its easy, rococo charm, the film evokes Allen’s characteristic late-’80s tenderness, a sweet but not sticky underbelly of city living and falling in love. In these two minutes of near-perfection, Mills has built up gargantuan hopes for the inception of 2011’s summer season. Let’s just pray they don’t crumble.

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