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Beginners (2011)

Ewan McGregor , Christopher Plummer , Mike Mills  |  R |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer
  • Directors: Mike Mills
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal
  • DVD Release Date: November 15, 2011
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004A8ZWV0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,500 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Beginners" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The impact of parents on their children has rarely been captured with the wit and compassion of Beginners, a sweet comedy about love and fear. Ewan McGregor, perhaps the most charming actor alive, plays a graphic artist named Oliver, whose elderly father Hal (played with a deft mix of twinkle and gravitas by Christopher Plummer) comes out as gay after Oliver's mother dies. Alas, Hal also discovers he has terminal cancer--but he crams as much life into the time left to him as he can. Beginners skips back and forth between Oliver's last months with his father and his first months with a young actress, Anna (Mélanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds), towards whom he feels a mesmerizing attraction… and with whom he shares a paralyzing fear of intimacy. All of which sounds ponderous and drab, but Beginners is the exact opposite. Writer-director Mike Mills brings a wonderfully light and wistfully humorous touch to these heavy topics, as well as an eye for engaging visuals. Mills and his outstanding cast delicately weave the different threads of Oliver's life into a delicate but emotionally potent whole. Mills's previous film, Thumbsucker, showed promise; Beginners fulfills it. --Bret Fetzer

Product Description

Golden Globe nominee Ewan McGregor (Star Wars I, II, III), Academy Award nominee Christopher Plummer (Inside Man), and Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) star in Beginners, an uplifting comedy about how funny and transformative life can be. When graphic designer Oliver (McGregor) meets free-spirited Anna (Laurent) shortly after his father (Plummer) has passed away, Oliver realizes just how much of a beginner he is when it comes to long-lasting romantic love. Memories of his father, who, following the death of his wife of 45 years, came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life, encourage Oliver to open himself up to the potential of a true relationship. Inspired by writer/director Mike Mills’ own father, it’s an original love story that critics cheer is “smart, poignant and often hilarious!” (Karen Durbin, Elle)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 77 people found the following review helpful
There's an emotional acuity to this bittersweet 2011 dramedy that makes the loose structure of the first-person narrative easier to take than one would expect. Director/screenwriter Mike Mills bases his movie on a series of events that occurred in his own life. Just months after Mills' own mother passed away, his 75-year-old father announced that despite their 44-year marriage he was gay and intended to spend his remaining days exploring the hidden side of his libido. Cancer cut short those plans but not the life affirming spirit with which he explored his new lifestyle. It certainly helps that Mills cast 81-year-old Christopher Plummer as the father since his naturally erudite manner complements his character Hal's innately fey quality in a way that makes his late-blooming emotional emancipation all the sweeter. It's a lovely performance well worth remembering during next year's award season.

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.
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59 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely moving July 2, 2011
I went with eagerness to this film. I tend to see many gay-themed movies. This one moved me enormously, and it wasn't the gay character, Christopher Plummer, who most affected me, although he was very, very good. What hit me hard about the movie was Ewan McGregor's deeply sensitive portrayal of a lonely man. This movie is not about how a straight son comes to grips with his gay father who comes out very late in life. It's about a man approaching middle age (McGregor) who realizes he has never really loved. I am rarely (and I mean rarely) been moved to tears in a movie. This was an exception.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHEN, AND HOW, DO WE BEGIN TO BE OUR TRUE SELF? March 1, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
When do we stop being our true self-- and why? And when, and why, after so many years, do we begin to be our true self again? These questions are asked and answered in Mike Mills' autobiographical film "Beginners."
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).
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Touching but uneven and disappointing too. January 13, 2012
BEGINNERS has many nice elements to it, and it is a sweet movie overall. But it is also very uneven and frustrating too.

The essential concept is what interested me (that and the actors) in watching this. A son (Ewan McGregor), well into his thirties and still quite single, has to grapple with the death of his mother, followed closely by the announcement from his father (Christopher Plummer) that he is gay and intends to start enjoying an open, gay lifestyle. And not long after, the father develops cancer and is gone all too soon. I'm not spoiling anything, because we learn all this in the opening moments of the film, which is a series of intertwining flashbacks. One series shows the young boy experiencing his home life growing up with a distant father and a moody, unhappy mother. The other shows him observing how happy and generous and open his father has become once out of the closet. And the last shows his father's last days...when the old man was still warm, funny and open. Finally, mixed in with the flashbacks are scenes of a developing romance between McGregor and Anna, an actress and "free spirit" (Melanie Laurent, so wonderful in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS).

Plummer is fantastic in the film, and the Oscar talk is certainly deserved. When Plummer was younger (back in the SOUND OF MUSIC DAYS)...I don't think he was a very good actor. Stiff and cold. In his old age, he's given some marvelous performances. It's as though he no longer worries about how he looks and just lets himself BE and DO whatever the part calls for. Ironically, even though he's in his `80s, he comes off more virile and passionate now than he ever did 40 years ago. And even though the costume designer thinks all old, gay men wear ridiculous scarf-type thingies...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars it was real.
Mike Mills examines the complexity and dimensions of our inner demons, nuances, essentially of the human soul. Read more
Published 6 days ago by MINA
2.0 out of 5 stars Highly rated but disappointing
Not quite a comedy just because the guy talks funny to his dog. Couldn't make it past the halfway point.
Published 22 days ago by Tuhin Ghosh
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming father and son story
I love this movie for so many reasons. The performances of the leading players are just beautifully done (of course Christopher Plummer picked up every acting award offered for... Read more
Published 24 days ago by M. Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful movie
I'm not sure how I missed this one when it came out in 2010 but I'm glad I came across it now. Beautiful little movie of life and love and being your true self. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Daniel E.
3.0 out of 5 stars Ehhh...okay but nothing exciting
It's okay, a bit cheesy, a bit slow, a bit sad and nothing really really exciting or profound happens in this movie. Read more
Published 1 month ago by ben tan
4.0 out of 5 stars Beginners
Charming, endearing and romantic. It is never too late for new beginnings and awakenings. The film covers an array of relationships: paternal, maternal, spousal, friendship and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ducks
5.0 out of 5 stars "Funny and Intelligent"
Ewan McGregor plays Oliver, a young man who discovers his 75 year old father has recently "come out" as a homosexual. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Terrance Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and amazing
This film is so cool. It's unusual to have such a profound, deeply moving story and to have light entertaining moments in one film. Read more
Published 2 months ago by KT
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Love Story
This film is a real joy, everything about it, every component, is perfectly nuanced and heart felt. It might be McGregor's best work. Read more
Published 3 months ago by W. A. Hoffman
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film and learning tool
This film was not only a great help for an older man coming out late in life, but a wonderful study and guide to relationships for all individuals
Published 3 months ago by Dan Youmans
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