“Beginners”: When do you really begin your life?


How to begin my thoughts about “Beginners?” Well, First… I love Ewan McGregor so I knew I was going to see this film eventually. Second, I love how Mike Mills, director and writer of the film, did this film. Third, who knew Jack Russell terriers added to yet another movie?

“Beginners” made me think of the title of this blog post, when does your life really begin? Oliver Fields played by Ewan McGregor finds out his father played by Christopher Plummer is gay at 75 years old. His mother died five years ago. The father, Hal Fields lived a quiet emotionless life working at a museum. He knew he was gay since 13, but his wife still wanted to marry him because she was going to fix him.

After she dies, Hal comes out and finds there is so much more to his life he never knew. He gets a boyfriend, joins gay buddy groups and seems happier. Oliver, his son is still having trouble coming to grips with it. Oliver is also having issues dealing with his father’s medical condition, cancer.

I said in previous posts how much I hate when films flip back and forth between the past and present, but in this movie, I didn’t mind so much. I actually enjoyed it because then you go to see more of Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor’s relationship. You get to see why Oliver is so depressed or has to take Arthur, the jack russell everywhere. Arthur was his father’s dog. Side note: Arthur also likes to talk in subtitles.

The movie is quirky in its own ways. I love when Oliver would describe something like “this is what the sky looked like in 1971” and Mike Mills would throw up a picture of the sky. I think that made it quirkier if that’s possible and unique in its own way. I thought it made a good connection to what Oliver was trying to do… making a picture book of how sadness started.

“Beginners” is about Hal learning to begin his life in such s short time and Oliver is learning to begin his life after his father dies. Oliver lives in the same house, keeps Arthur and tries to have a relationship with Anna, an actress played by  Melanie Laurent.

Christopher Plummer is a nominated for his role and I find him endearing. He is willing to experiment, give it his all. He is also not going to let cancer get him down. However, this could be his greatest fault when he doesn’t tell his much younger boyfriend that he is dying. Andy, the boyfriend played by Goran Visnijc (who I just realized is from E.R.) is afraid that Oliver has not told him because he was gay.

It should come as a no brainer by now, but I love soundtracks and I loved this one. Dave Palmer, Roger Neill and Brian Reitzell did some lovely piano tracks. You can hear one in the trailer with the piano having it’s own personality as Oliver explains his situation.

Oscar Nominations:

  1. Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Christopher Plummer
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