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The protagonist of the story is Oliver, a sensitive cartoonist who is nearing forty and finding himself unable to sustain a lasting relationship. Family dysfunction has taken its toll on Oliver given that he discovers six months after his mother Georgia's death that Hal was in the closet most of Oliver's life, thus explaining why his parents never appeared to connect emotionally. Oliver is obviously concerned a similar fate of repressed feelings will befall him as he rummages through Hal's things after his death. Flashbacks show a childhood dominated by Georgia's eccentric manner with Hal relegated to the shadows of doorways always on his way to another business trip. Meanwhile, closer to the present, Oliver meets a free-spirited French actress named Anna, whose flirtatious manner gives way to her own vulnerability since she has her own family-related challenges in developing romantic connections.Read more ›
Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor;, playing a film variation of Mills himself) is a graphic designer who can't seem to communicate his feelings or maintain a long-term emotional relationship. Oliver, though not verbally expressive or emotionally demonstrative, does express his emotions through graphic design and illustration. The movie flashes back into the past and flashes forward again into the present or more recent past. As we see Oliver's relationship with his parents, we see how he became so emotionally conditioned. His parents endured a distant 45 year marriage, in an environment where emotions and secrets were never revealed. After his mother's (Mary Page Keller) death, his 75 year old father Hal (Christopher Plummer; "Hamlet," "The Sound Of Music", "Inside Man") finally comes out of the closet as a gay man. "And I don't want to be just theoretically gay," he says, "I want to do something about it." And, in the final years of his life, Hal embraces his life with gusto and passion ; becoming an active member of the gay community and having a loving relationship with a much younger man (Goran Visnjig). In the last years of his life, Hal finally begins to be his true self, and Oliver finally begins to know and love the father that he never knew before. In the end, Hal refuses to acknowledge the cancer that will end the life he has just begun to live.
In the present day, inspired by his father's example, Oliver decides to embark upon a relationship with the beguiling and seemingly free-spirited Anna (Melanie Laurent).Read more ›
The film examines a number of relationships: Oliver and Anna, Oliver and Hal, Oliver and his mother, and Hal and his much younger boyfriend Andy (Goran Visnji'). Of these, I found Oliver's mother and father the most interesting, but that is probably to be expected, considering they are the most personal to the director. I wish we saw more of Oliver's neglected, frustrated mother, as Mary Page Keller gives a stand-out performance in this small role. It's interesting to compare the neurotic behavior of the younger generation to the reserved acceptance of the older generation as well. "Beginners" runs longer than it should due to unnecessary scenes, but it has an honesty that "relationship movies" usually don't, and the cast and characters are appealing.
The DVD (Universal 2011): There are two featurettes and an audio commentary. "A Short Film about Making Beginners" (14 min) is in black-and-white and includes interviews with Mike Mills, the cast, and behind-the-scenes footage.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Oh, this movie. McGregor and Plummer. A remarkable pairing with the talent to mirror the complexities of life with a simple look. I cried through most of it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dina Keratsis
Took me a while to get into this movie, though worth it. The portrayal of a 70-something widower acting on his true self is a bold statement. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Pelz
Could not continue too sad at this time for me maybe later actors are great.Published 5 months ago by Pandora Smith
I enjoy seeing films in which Ewan McGregor is an actor.Published 5 months ago by Richard E. Willson
I'm so confused???? This movie has bad acting and no plot line whatsoever.Published 7 months ago by Tiffani Beissel
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