Beginners Review

By: Mark Di Stefano                                                   Rating: 8 out of 10

Beginners is a film that’s bursting with exuberant talent and delight.  It’s also one that exudes pure, honest feelings about love and life and how they change over one’s life.

The film centers on Oliver, played with sincere vulnerability by Ewan McGregor.  After his mother died Oliver’s dad Hal (Christopher Plummer), who loved his wife the whole 44 years that they were married, revealed that he was Gay the entire time.  Hal’s true being makes Oliver question his parent’s marriage and whether they loved each other or not.  When Oliver meets Anna (the beautiful Melanie Laurent), he’s not sure whether to allow himself to be happy based on his past.

Written and Directed by Mike Mills, Beginners can be called a semi-autobiography of sorts, being that the story was based on the relationship between Mills and his father.  Whether the whole movie was all accurate or only small parts, itstill feels real.

The main cast, while consisting of the three principal actors, is still one of the best ensembles of a film this year.  The standout here though is the great Christopher Plummer, who got his first Oscar nomination at 80 years old back in 2009 for Best Supporting Actor in The Last Station.  To play a man who comes out of the closet at 75 and change his lifestyle, is nothing short of brave excellence on Plummer’s part.  His role in this film is unlike anything he has done in the past, and will sure to get him some attention when the Oscars come around.

Ewan McGregor also turns a nice, down-to-earth performance as Oliver.  He makes Oliver appeal to each and every one of us, for we find something in Oliver that relates to our own being.  Melanie Laurent, who had a stunning breakthrough performance in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, has a captivating presence in the film.  She is an actress who doesn’t have to speak for the entire film, and the audience will still marvel in her performance.  Her chemistry with McGregor on screen is makes them mesmerizing together.

Mills, who made his directorial debut with 2005’s Thumbsucker, is a subtle force to be reckon with (he’s also married to auteur writer/director Miranda July).  In the film Hal is an art historian and museum director and Oliver is a graphic designer.  Mill uses these facts to tell the story through images and art drawings, keeping our attention throughout.  His way of storytelling is whimsical and surreal and makes his films unlike anything else, making him one of the top heavyweights in the independent film realm.

If every director had a film they could only make once, that they go one-hundred percent on, Beginners would be it.  Mills has done a fantastic job in making a sweet, poignant film on how at any age we can start to begin our lives.  The three main characters in Beginners have their own journeys on how to revive their lives, and their journeys can resonate with audiences, making this one of the most relatable, moving films of the year.


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