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165 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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)

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

Special Features

  • A Short Film About Making Beginners
  • Beginners Promo
  • Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Mike Mills

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer
    • Directors: Mike Mills
    • Format: Multiple Formats, 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 (165 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B004A8ZWV0
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,912 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Beginners" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    76 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 4, 2011
    Format: DVD
    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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    68 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader and Writer on July 2, 2011
    Format: DVD
    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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    13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By DEWEY M. VINE VOICE on 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.
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    Format: DVD
    "Beginners" is a dramedy written and directed by Mike Mills, inspired by his own experiences with his father, who adopted a gay lifestyle at the age of 75 after a long marriage. Mills combines his memories of his father's last years with a parallel love story in the life of Oliver (Ewan MacGregor), a Los Angeles graphic designer in his late 30s with a string of failed relationships behind him. A few months after his father dies, Oliver meets Anna (Mélanie Laurent), a French actress who is in LA for a job. Oliver and Anna hit it off, and we see the last years of Oliver's father Hal's (Christopher Plummer) life unfold in flashback as his relationship with Anna grows. We also get a glimpse of Oliver's relationship with his mother (Mary Page Keller) when he was a boy.

    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.
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