Beginners review

            Beginners is such a pleasure to watch that I have an unshakable compulsion to write a thank you letter to those involves in its conception. I was particularly engaged by Ewan McGregor, who has been great in the past and is nothing short of spectacular here. I believe that art can be transformative in our lives, heal our wounds by providing catharsis, and Beginners feels more like medicine for the soul than it does a piece of entertainment. The latest Michael Bay film or comic book adaptation can provide distraction in entertainment, but Beginners offers an uplifting look at real life and true problems we must all face. In short, I absolutely adored this film.

            McGregor heads up the brilliant cast as Los Angeles graphic designer Oliver, a man who has led a melancholy life since the passing of his father. When Oliver meets a beautiful young actress named Anna (Mélanie Laurent) at a Halloween party he is immediately drawn to her unique personality. They get along despite Oliver’s sadness, though he begins to realize that the untraditional path of his parents has left him rather confused about the mysteries of love. Oliver’s parents (Christopher Plummer and Mary Page Keller) were married for 45-years, but he never sensed love between them. After his mother passed, Oliver’s father came out of the closet at the age of 75.

            Though this sounds like the set-up for a silly comedy, Beginners never makes fun of the characters as they stumble in attempts to live their lives to the fullest. A perfect example is a scene in which the newly openly gay father calls his son after visiting his first gay club and asks what the name of the music was. Oliver does not laugh at his father or ridicule him for being too old to enjoy house music. Instead the father and son begin a slow journey into discovering and appreciating each other. These scenes are so simple yet profoundly beautiful that it adds meaning to Oliver’s grief, as well as the struggles he has finding happiness with Anna.

            I cannot say enough good things about this film. Inspired by experiences from filmmaker Mike Mills’ own life and relationship with his father, Beginners feels personal and sincere. There are no manipulations or forced bedside confessionals. This is a simple film which still manages a profound level of depth. And if ever a film was a perfect argument for the inclusion of Best Casting in the Academy Awards, it is this one. Courtney Bright and Nicole Daniels have a done a flawless job, from leading characters down to the dog which Oliver inherits once his father passes.

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