Beginners

Beginners

5.0 1
Director: Mike Mills

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent

     
 

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Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is an illustrator with a history of failed relationships. Growing up, he spent much of his time with his eccentric mother, Georgia (Mary Page Keller), while his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer), supported the arts as the curator of a localSee more details below

Overview

Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is an illustrator with a history of failed relationships. Growing up, he spent much of his time with his eccentric mother, Georgia (Mary Page Keller), while his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer), supported the arts as the curator of a local museum. Though Oliver's parents never divorced, as a young boy he always sensed a distance between them -- a distance, Oliver discovers following his mother's death years later, that resulted from the fact that his father had lived most of his life as a closeted homosexual. With his wife gone and his son grown up, 75-year-old Hal decides to finally embrace his sexuality and takes a young boyfriend (Goran Visnjic). When Hal's health takes a turn for the worse, Oliver steps up to care for him while recalling quiet conversations and eventful trips to the museum with his unpredictable mother -- a dyed-in-the-wool eccentric. Gradually, Oliver begins to see his father in a whole new light. Later, Oliver falls for pretty French actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent) after a chance meeting at a costume party. The more intimate Oliver and Anna become, the more they both realize they share one defining character flaw -- the moment any relationship turns serious, they run away. For Oliver it means shutting himself in and obsessing over his work; for Anna it's as easy as checking into another empty hotel room in yet another strange city -- one of the perks, as it were, of having an itinerant job. After moving in together, the dysfunctional couple realizes that overcoming their hard-wired relationship issues is more difficult than either of them expected.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
A son discovers the father he never knew, embracing the opportunity to reconnect while struggling in a relationship that seems doomed to failure in this intimate, melancholy drama from Thumbsucker director Mike Mills. At once subtle, heartfelt, and deeply compassionate, Beginners serves as a gentle reminder that we're never truly ready for the challenges life throws our way, even when we think we've seen it all. Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is an illustrator with a history of failed relationships. Growing up, he spent much of his time with his eccentric mother, Georgia (Mary Page Keller), while his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer), supported the arts as the curator of a local museum. Though Oliver's parents never divorced, as a young boy he always sensed a distance between them -- a distance, Oliver discovers following his mother's death years later, that resulted from the fact that his father had lived most of his life as a closeted homosexual. With his wife gone and his son grown up, 75-year-old Hal decides to finally embrace his sexuality. Meanwhile, as Hal takes a young boyfriend (Goran Visnjic), Oliver falls for pretty French actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent) after a chance meeting at a costume party. The more intimate Oliver and Anna become, the more they both realize they share one defining character flaw -- the moment any relationship turns serious, they run away. For Oliver it means shutting himself in and obsessing over his work; for Anna it's as easy as checking into another empty hotel room in yet another strange city -- one of the perks, as it were, of having an itinerant job. Later, when Hal's health takes a turn for the worse, Oliver steps up to care for him while recalling quiet conversations and eventful trips to the museum with his unpredictable mother -- a dyed-in-the-wool eccentric. In time, Oliver starts questioning his relationship habits and begins to see his father in a whole new light. At one point in Beginners, young Oliver is navigating as his mother drives the family car. He keeps pointing left. His mother, clearly exasperated yet wholly accepting of the fact that her son is still learning, responds simply, "Left again. Going in circles. I like it." In essence, Mills' gentle drama is about the moment we choose to break those cycles, and the way we respond when we notice others doing the same. It's a concept that holds boundless possibilities for exploring character, and by keeping the cast small, the perceptive writer/director affords himself the opportunity to do it in a way that genuinely resonates. We may not be able to personally identify with Oliver's relationship problems, or Hal's fears of losing everything he holds dear should his sexuality be discovered, but we can still recognize the patterns they fall into, and perhaps use them to draw parallels to our own lives. If all of this makes Beginners sound more enlightening than entertaining, Mills has ensured that we remain fully invested in the characters by casting actors who bring complexity to roles that could have easily been one-dimensional. Even though Oliver's friends mock him for being overly austere, the more we get to know him, the more we gradually start to realize there is another, more colorful, side to his personality -- one that isn't afraid to partake in a bit of vandalism in order to blow off some steam -- and that while his relationship problems may inform his personality, they certainly don't define him. McGregor, equally adept at high-profile Hollywood fare and more challenging indie projects such as this, delivers a gorgeously low-key performance opposite esteemed Oscar nominee Plummer, whose nuanced portrayal of Hal may well end up being the highlight of a long and fruitful career. Co-star Mary Page Keller brings a sense of desperate quirkiness to the role of Georgia -- a woman who knowingly sacrificed a comfortable life for the love of a good man born at the wrong time; Visnjic portrays Hal's likeable young lover with a balance of self-realization and insecurity not usually granted to peripheral characters; and Laurent is a captivating combination of mysteriousness and curious accessibility as the actress who recognizes the sadness in Oliver's eyes. Though finicky viewers may be put off by the heavyhearted mood of the film and Olivier Bugge Coutté's creative editing, Beginners is nevertheless a life-affirming drama that touches on complex themes with an honest, astute wisdom that extends well beyond the central issue of sexuality. For moviegoers in search of something other than the latest summer tent pole or second-run hit, this is precisely the kind of Hollywood counterprogramming that stimulates the intellect instead of simply tickling the corneas.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/15/2011
UPC:
0025192095146
Original Release:
2011
Rating:
R
Source:
Focus Features
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:44:00
Sales rank:
68,213

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ewan McGregor Oliver
Christopher Plummer Hal
Mélanie Laurent Anna
Goran Visnjic Andy
Kai Lennox Elliot
Mary Page Keller Georgia
Keegan Boos Young Oliver
China Shavers Shauna
Melissa Tang Liz
Amanda Payton Party Person
Luke Diliberto Green Witch
Lou Taylor Pucci Magician
Bambadjan Bamba The Sads
Hana Hwang The Sads
Samuel T. Ritter The Sads
Jennifer Lauren Record Company Rep
Reynaldo Pacheco Julio
Jodi Long Dr. Flaster
Bruce French Dr. Wright
Leslie Shea ICU Nurse #1
Michael Chieffo Hal's Priest
Jennifer Hasty Secretary
Rodney Saulsberry 1978 Museum Staff
June Sanders 1978 Fancy Woman
Catherine McGoohan 1978 Older Woman
Terry Walters Terse Nurse
Lana Young ICU Nurse #2
Algerita Lewis Nice Nurse
Regina Redwing Strict Nurse
Sunday Burke Home Nurse #1
Patrick Birkett Hal Look-Alike
Sabera Wise Skating Rink Manager
Rafael J. Noble Brian
Jose Yenque Robert
T.G. Cody The Primetimers
Ton Suckhasem The Primetimers
Charly Valentino The Primetimers
Seth Walker The Primetimers
Patrick Scott The Primetimers
Michael Wilhelms The Primetimers

Technical Credits
Mike Mills Director,Screenwriter
Courtney Bright Casting
Paul Timothy Carden Sound/Sound Designer
Olivier Bugge Coutté Editor
Nicole Daniels Casting
Miranda de Pencier Producer
Fran Giblin Co-producer
Jennifer Johnson Costumes/Costume Designer
Lars Knudsen Producer
Geoff Linville Co-producer
Victoria Lorenz Makeup
Roger Neill Score Composer
Dave Palmer Score Composer
Brian Reitzell Score Composer
Jim Ridgley Sound Mixer
Joan Scheckel Executive Producer
Leslie Shatz Sound/Sound Designer
Rod Smith Asst. Director
Kasper Tuxen Cinematographer
Robin Urdang Musical Direction/Supervision
Leslie Urdang Producer
Shane Valentino Production Designer
Jay Van Hoy Producer
Dean Vanech Producer

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Scene Index

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

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