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14 of 15 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
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This review is from: Beginners (DVD)
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). Interestingly, in a movie filled with characters who can't communicate on one level or another, when Oliver and Anna first meet, she has laringytis and, therefore, cannot speak. Turns out, Anna also has issues concerning her distant father. In a sweet touch, an adorable dog named Arthur serves as the emotional connection between all the characters, past and present, dead or alive, here.
Christopher Plummer's deservedly award-winning performance is a subtle but wonderful revelation. You can see the twinkle in his eyes, you can feel his joy, when he finally embraces his true self. In many ways, Oliver is just as full of child-like wonder and astonishment in his relationship with Anna as his father was when he came out of the closet. I am thrilled that Plummer received awards, but I wish Ewan McGregor's equally heartfelt performance and Mike Mills' beautiful screenplay, had also received the same recognition. But, regardless of awards, "Beginners" is a warm and human film; to be cherished.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 5, 2012, 12:39:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 5, 2012, 1:25:57 PM PST
Dewey, this review educated me on the gist of this movie. I knew Christopher Plummer was in it, and I love his acting(if you haven't seen it, check out Douglas McGrath's 2002 "Nicholas Nickleby"; Plummer is excellent as Ralph Nickleby). I'd also love to see Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor act off of each other. I didn't even know McGregor was in this film until I watched the Oscars. "Beginners" sounds like an involving picture, and your review cements my desire to see it. This is another enlightening review.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 5, 2012, 2:40:13 PM PST
DEWEY M. says:
Gregory: "Beginners" is now my favorite movie of all time (displacing "Taxi Driver" to #2). It just touches my heart. Plummer's performance is a subtle revelation. And, I feel, Ewan McGregor also deserved award nominations as his son Olivier. Also, be sure to see Plummer in 1964's "Hamlet" (BBC) if you haven't already. I highly recommend "Beginners." Thank you, as always, for your comments.
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