Beginners is a rather bleak look at relationships, the destructive effect of terminal illnesses, and sexual indecision, but its somber approach is captivatingly efficient. Watching Beginners you feel as if you’ve been in at least one similar situation at some point which makes the film translucent and rewarding to connect with. Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent, Beginners two leads, seem easily and inexplicably drawn to one another and empathize on similar wavelengths making their performance as a couple utterly realistic. Directed by Mike Mills and also featuring brilliant Canadian Christopher Plummer as well as Goran Visnjic who is exceptional, Beginners is both heartbreaking and affirming, sturdy yet flexible, overall a breath of fresh air into a genre that is over saturated and lacking.
In the year 2003, Oliver (McGregor), a graphic artist has just become aware that his father George (Plummer) has cancer. In addition, George reveals that he is gay despite the fact he was married to his mother, Georgia until her passing. George has found a partner in Andy (Visnjic) although he is uncomfortable with the fact that the relationship is an open one. Oliver later attends a party with his friends where he meets Anna (Laurent). Anna is a french actress who lives a rapid life and soon becomes taken with Oliver. As his father condition worsens, Andy becomes distant and Oliver and Anna’s relationship begins to turn sour.
It’s as if every weekend there is a new romance or rom-com released and it’s up to the viewer to filter the good from the weak and monotonous. Beginners is definitely one of the good ones. Rarely do we witness a romantic film that shatters your heart then persists in breaking the shards into dust. There is no miraculous intervention or quick fix, it simply takes its time in reassembling the pieces as real recovery would. Ewan McGregor adapts to his characters reluctancy and silent optimism, eventually willing to emerge from his cave of depression with his trusty dog as his sidekick, who is also quite the chick magnet. I don’t think I’ve even been more persuaded into believing the honesty in a performance. Melanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer are spiritual and outgoing in their own ways, regardless of whether that’s the way they’ve always been or just realizing their existence. Beginners may be daunting and dispiriting, but its simple and raw script and approach is appealing and hopeful.
Beginners: 8 out of 10.