Rating:4 stars out of 5
The Stars: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurant, Goran Visnjic, Mary Page Keller.
The Story: The film follows Oliver (McGregor), a graphic artist living in Los Angeles, as he deals with the death of his father, Hal (Plummer) an ex-museum director who comes out of the closet in his 70s after the death of Oliver’s mother (played as a younger woman by Mary Page Keller in flashbacks). While he tries to grapple with his recent loss, Oliver attempts to move forward by taking tentative steps into a relationship with Anna (Laurant), an effervescent actress he meets at a costume party who also has daddy issues of her own.
Christopher Plummer & Ewan McGregor star in Beginners.
Buzz: Beginnersis written and helmed by indie filmmaker/music video director Mike Mills (Thumbsucker) and reportedly based on the true life account of Mills’ own father’s coming out.
inSing.com says: Director Mills has created one of those rare films that comes together with quiet conviction and grace; the kind that’s so gently moving you’re wiping tears before you can even figure out why. Visually quirky and narratively fluid, Beginners plainly but poignantly weaves disparate timelines to form an emotionally affecting whole. Although not as hipster friendly as 2009’s break-out indie rom-com, 500 Days of Summer, which perpetuated the non-linear narrative trend, Mills’ screenplay takes a potentially weighty, controversial premise and injects doses of humour into an expertly observed story about love and the inevitable costs of staying true to your heart. The film also manages a wonderful balance between comedy and heartache, layering every moment with a raw, almost beautiful sense of pain.
Melanie Laurent & Ewan McGregor.
McGregor, like fine wine and George Clooney, seems to be getting better with age. He’s always had infectious screen presence and is a fairly decent actor, but with Oliver the Scottish thespian has really gotten under our skins, bringing out his character’s sadness with a dry but definite wittiness and realism.
Plummer similarly, turns in a sweet performance, and brilliantly conveys the nuanced emotions of a man at the turning point of life, embracing the happiness of being out. Oliver and Anna’s relationship appears more catalytic to the former’s development than anything else, yet Laurent renders Anna’s eccentricities adorable and as unforgettable as the rest of the film. And if you’re not really into all that jazz, there’s also a criminally cute Jack Russell Terrier that threatens to upstage its human counterparts.
Ultimately the film’s success stems from a script and cast of fully rounded, real protagonists who move, love and hurt like we do. Beginners isn’t about winning every battle, but deciding when to fight for life and the things that mean most to you.