Today: April 15, 2024

Beginners

If you were told going in that Beginners is an off-beat comedy, directed by a former music video director, featuring a cute but kooky French girl, a dog who talks to his owner (via subtitles, naturally) and Ewan McGregor doing an American accent

If you were told going in that Beginners is an off-beat comedy, directed by a former music
video director, featuring a cute but kooky French girl, a dog who talks to his
owner (via subtitles, naturally) and Ewan McGregor doing an American accent
,
would it make you want to see it?
The girl and the dog are probably a matter of taste, but if you found
sitting through McGregor’s painfully unconvincing Scottish-American drawl in I
Love You Phillip Morris
then the answer
might very well be ‘no’. Which
would be a shame, because although McGregor’s accent is only a slight
improvement on previous efforts, after the first twenty minutes or so the film
is so good it really doesn’t matter.

The film cuts between a present-day love story between the
grieving Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and the endearingly eccentric Anna (Mélanie Laurent of Inglourious Basterds) and flashbacks to the final few years and months
of Oliver’s relationship with his father, Hal. Inspired by events in director Mike Mills’ own life, Hal has
come out as gay at the age of 75 following the death of his wife. Christopher Plummer’s performance as
Hal naively, yet excitably exploring his gay identity and falling in love with
a younger man, Andy (Goran Visnjic of ER) is a comic yet touching tour de force that gives this sparse,
metaphysical comedy its heart.

Wrapped up behind this very
human story is a thought-provoking look at love and identity. Hal and his wife marry and set to work
building a conventional all-American family despite them both being aware of
Hal’s homosexuality: “when they got married, my Mom took off her Jewish badge
and he took off his gay badge”.
Whilst Hal coming out of the closet brings him closer to his son, after
Hal’s death Oliver struggles to understand his own identity and tries to anchor
himself in the Norman Rockwell-esque images from his childhood as he sits in an
empty house, surrounded by boxes of his father’s possessions. At a fancy dress party – dressed as
Freud – he meets the actress Anna on whom he conducts a mock analysis as she
lies on a couch. Her life
mirroring her profession, Anna – like Hal and Oliver – is shifting between
playing different roles; trying on an identity for size, as she and Oliver
start their tentative love affair.

By turns, funny, sweet,
moving and cerebral, Beginners is
a simple yet unexpected treat which – while packing in a lot to leave you
thinking about after you have left the cinema – remains light-hearted and real.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

Previous Story

Troll Hunter

Next Story

Debt, The

Latest from Blog

Memory

Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

Argylle

Argylle is one of those films that, for the first 15 minutes, you absolutely hate. Then, slowly, inexorably, the script’s subversive humour starts to work its way under your skin. So that,

Sugar

From ultra-stylish visuals, to the cool, jazz soundtrack, and the knowing nod to Noir, Sugar is one glorious piece of misdirection after another. Like the best detective fiction, the clues are all

The Borderlands Unboxing

The Borderlands is one of the most underrated hidden gems in the found footage subgenre, so for it to receive the Second Sight treatment is fantastic news for horror fans. Our Alex

The First Omen

Last year, David Gordon Green followed up his underrated Halloween legacy trilogy with an ill-fated attempt at a sequel to The Exorcist. The film was ultimately a lesson in how not to
Go toTop