It's 2003. Thirty-eight year old graphic artist Oliver Fields has just lost his father Hal Fields to cancer, after Oliver's mother Georgia Fields passed away five years earlier. Oliver is naturally a sullen man due to his growing up relationship with his parents (his mother who had a unique view on life) and watching his parents' cordial but somewhat distant relationship with each other, but is more so now because of his personal family loss. Oliver embarks on a relationship with Anna, a French actress. Oliver is hoping that his re-energized relationship with Hal following Georgia's death and Hal's new outlook on life during that time will show Oliver how to act in a loving relationship. After Georgia's death, Hal came out of the closet and began to live with a joie de vivre that did not exist before, which included an open relationship with a much younger man named Andy. Oliver's relationship with Anna has other obstacles, including Anna's own vagabond lifestyle and Oliver needing to... Written by
¨Well, let's say that since you were little, you always dreamed of getting a lion. And you wait, and you wait, and you wait, and you wait but the lion doesn't come. And along comes a giraffe. You can be alone, or you can be with the giraffe.¨
Beginners is one of those movies that stands out due to the strong performance from the cast. The actors tell the story, and sometimes a look can say more than actual words. Ewan McGregor has this look in his eyes that constantly reminds us in this film that his character is a very sad and lonesome guy. There is no need for him to tell us, we just know it by the way he acts. From the opening scene you will also notice this isn't your typical Hollywood romantic movie; it's different and actually rings true to life. Beginners is a romantic drama with a strong and special chemistry between the two lead roles played by McGregor and Melanie Laurent (from Inglorious Basterds fame). In order for a romantic movie to work it's a must for the two lead characters to have a strong chemistry between them, and these two have it from the start, from the very first moment they meet. Ironically when they first meet she can't talk, but they say so much to each other with their eyes. That is true in life sometimes. From that moment I knew this film was going to be good, and it was. Their relationship is the center of the story although the movie is non-linear as we get to see McGregor's relationship with his now dead mother and father. Those interactions with them shaped him and made him the man he is today. He witnessed how his parents respected one another, but lacked real love for each other. He doesn't want to make the same mistake.
Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is the narrator of the movie in which he is telling the story of his life. It's 2003 and his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer) has recently passed away. We get several flashbacks dealing with their relationship together. His mother, Georgia (Mary Page Keller), who he was closer with had died five years ago. After this, Oliver grew closer to his father who opened up to him and let him know he has been gay all his life. Hal really begins living after he comes out of the closet and has a relationship with a much younger man named Andy (Goran Visnjic). Oliver begins to see a version of his father that he never knew. At the same time he realizes his father has terminal cancer and therefore has to take care of him, but in a way they form a stronger bond with each other. Oliver is now on his own, working as a graphic artist who keeps to himself most of the time and spends time with his father's dog, Arthur, but one day his co-workers invite him to a party and insist on him joining them. There Oliver meets a young French actress named Anna (Melanie Laurent) and despite the fact that she can't speak at first due to laryngitis they spend the night together and the relationship grows from there. The two seem perfect for each other, neither of them is in a relationship, but Oliver is afraid they won't last. The movie jumps back and forth from Oliver's relationship with his father and his present relationship with Anna. We get to see how some things of the past have affected him and shaped him in the present.
Beginners is not a movie for everyone; some might find it slow-paced, but it is a very smart film with a good script written by Mike Mills himself (this is his first film since the 2005 movie Thumbsucker) and it has some great performances. I already mentioned how strong McGregor and Laurent were together, but who really has been getting all the praise is Christopher Plummer for his supporting role. He plays an openly gay seventy five year old man who is enjoying life after trying to repress his feelings for so many years. Just when his life begins to look good he is diagnosed with cancer and has to deal with this as well without telling his young lover that he's dying. He gives a terrific performance and will probably get nominated for the Oscars. I however found Laurent's performance to be the true heart of the film. She is just so natural on screen and was so believable; she was just amazing. McGregor is a terrific actor as well and we've grown used to seeing him give strong performances. Beginners is a movie for film lovers, they won't be disappointed. I recently saw New Year's Eve and that movie had so many romantic stories going on that none of them really rang true, but this one is really authentic and worth seeing. The characters are really complex and you can tell it just by looking into their eyes. Great film.
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