Beginners (2010)

beginners poster 2010 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Nice movie, Christopher Plummer


Movie Info

Movie Name: Beginners

Studio: Olympus Pictures

Genre(s): Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s): September 11, 2010

MPAA Rating: R

beginners christopher plummer goran visnjic

Dad’s going through some changes (or undoing a past of missed opportunity)

Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is dealing with the death of his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) from cancer and finds he cannot connect to anyone.  When his friends force him to a party, Oliver meets Anna (Melanie Laurent), a French actress shooting a movie in the area.  Anna and Oliver find a connection, and Oliver is forced to reconnect with his past and remember how his father at age 75 changed after the death of his mother by announcing he was gay…and found himself in a new world.

Written and directed by Mike Mills, Beginners is a comedy-drama romance.  The film was released at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival but didn’t receive a wide release until 2011.  Received well by critics and fans, the film won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Plummer).

beginners oliver arthur dog cosmo ewan mcgregor

You’re stuck with me now

Beginners is a tricky movie in that it manages to be a light comedy and romance while being a downer.  It is about characters afraid to take chances and realizing the life they wasted when they did not take that chance.  While the movie could seem dark and depressing, it manages to keep an upbeat tone that helps convey its message.

Beginners starts out by saying what it is and it frequently updates this mission statement.  It talks about what was and what is at different times in the lives of Hal and Oliver.  It has a strange flow and a non-linear storytelling which instead of detracting from the film, enhances it.  You know that Plummer is gay, you know that he is dead, and yet the movie keeps you connected.  This connection is driven through the parallels between McGregor and Plummer, and how despite very different situations, both the father and the son struggled with having connections through their lives.  The film is based loosely on Mills and his relationship with his father who also announced he was gay at seventy-five and died five years later.

beginners ewan mcgregor melanie laurent

Don’t worry, crappy relationships run in my family too

The acting is great in the movie.  Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent’s relationship seems real since they are both just odd enough that it seems like a legitimate couple.  Laurent is showing a lot of potential as an actress after her role in Inglourious Basterds (I did struggle with Inglourious Basterds as opposed to many, but she was a shining star in it), and McGregor is always strong.

The real star however is Christopher Plummer who despite being 80 years old at the time of the movie continues to reinvent himself and bring new dimensions to characters that other lesser skilled actors cannot.  It is nice to see an actor who has been around so long continue to get work, and quality work at that.  His exploration of his gay side is funny and tragic in that he finally learns how to open up in his life, only to die.  Plummer is just a solid actor and a great reminder of the depth in Hollywood that needs to be continuously tapped and not forgotten (he also does a great turn in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo also released in 2011 to show this range).

beginners christopher plummer academy awards oscar gay

Just hand me my Oscar now…

The non-linear style of the movie also is beneficial to the storytelling.  Through Oliver’s flashbacks, you can see how his parents have affected his life (and in turn his love life) by seeing how much he is like them.  Things Oliver does with Anna are mirrors of his past with his mother, but you don’t learn this until later in the movie…it is nice and smart to see a subtle script instead of one that feels it is necessary to continue to remind you by having the actors give long soliloquies about their past.

Beginners is a nice movie and is sure to be recognized by Hollywood during award season.  It is a smart comedy-drama and like many good comedy-dramas it finds what is funny in life rather than sitting around making jokes.  It’s  a good movie…check it out.

Related Links:

The 84th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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