“Beginners” is a character-driven drama about a young man (Ewan McGregor) struggling with his own relationships whilst also dealing with his father (Christopher Plummer) finally coming out after years of marriage to his wife. Not long after his surprising announcement of being gay, the father is diagnosed with cancer and must make the most of the short time he has left. Though the film certainly has a sad undertone, there are a number of humorous and uplifting moments that prevent it from getting too depressing. Expect an exploration of relationships and how they can affect the ones we love.
Don’t be put off by some of the sullen themes and topics that are dealt with in “Beginners”. A brief synopsis of the film reveals that the film focuses on some heavy material: a man struggles to have a lasting relationship with a woman, a father who had to live a secret double life because of his homosexuality, and that father being diagnosed with cancer not long after he finally is able to come out to his friends and family. While “Beginners” can be a bit of a downer at points, it certainly is an important contemporary film that features a captivating look at some truly dynamic relationships. With a talented cast, developed characters and a unique story, this movie turns out to be an intriguing piece of work..
Writer: Mike Mills
Starring: Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent
Though the premise of “Beginners” is unusual, the film uses that backdrop to study more common complications that can cause relationships to grow, strain, and deteriorate. When Hal (Plummer) finally tells his son Oliver (McGregor) that he’s gay and always has been, it helps to explain his absence while Oliver was growing up. After Hal is diagnosed with in-operable cancer, Oliver realizes just how precious the little time they have left together is. He uses that time to finally discover who Hal really is and to come to understand the fractured relationship between his mother and father.
The rest of “Beginners” is spent focusing on the time right after Hal has passed away. As Oliver copes with the loss, a new girlfriend (“Inglourious Basterds’ Mélanie Laurent) causes him to reflect inward about his own relationship problems. By bouncing back and forth between scenes that take place before and after Hal’s death, “Beginners” is able to illustrate how everything ties together. Though each character is different, they each share a universal struggle with love and everything that goes with it.
With impressive performances from Plummer, McGregor and Laurent and an interesting focus on love and relationships, “Beginners” is a highly effective character-study of a drama. It’s an intriguing and overall enjoyable film as long as you’re prepared for some heavy material and an emphasis on characters over plot.