It's tempting to draw parallels between Beginners' vision of thirtysomething romance and the relationship fumblings that form the core of The Future, the upcoming second feature written, directed by, and starring Mills' wife, Miranda July. But Mills dismisses the comparison. "Obviously, that couple and my couple are the same-ish age and live in the same world, sort of," he says. "But Miranda's world is much more metaphysical in a weird way, and a little less real to me."

And if there's one aspect of Beginners that isn't directly autobiographical, it's the romance. "The love part is much more normal fiction," Mills says. "It's not me and my wife, Miranda. The emotional underpinnings of both those characters are me, or things that I know about, but also so many friends I've known. I really felt I was doing kind of a group portrait with that."

As reflective of his own life as Beginners might be, Mills hesitates to call the film a catharsis. "People have been saying that word 'cathartic' a lot. [But] cathartic always implies this burning through, or this resolution, like somehow it's over. And I don't believe in that at all, especially going through these experiences. It was a way to keep this conversation going with my dad."

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