- Director:Mike Mills
- Cast:Melanie Laurent, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer
- Release Date:August 25, 2011
- Running time:105 minutes
- Film Worth:$15.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
It does get a bit too cute stylistically, but the easy chemistry between the three leads ensures this adds up to a gentle and often touching charmer.
The best sequence in Beginners comes early, when a morose Oliver (Ewan McGregor) dresses up as Sigmund Freud for a fancy dress party and meets an attractive Frenchwoman named Anna (Melanie Laurent), who just happens to have laryngitis. It's almost better for Oliver that Anna has to communicate by writing on a notepad and with hand gestures as if she was in a silent movie, since he's a bit of a sad sack who's messed up three previous relationships. His hesitance comes in part from thinking about his 75-year-old father (a perky Christopher Plummer), who has just come out as gay. Oliver couldn't care less about his father's sexuality - he's just pleased to see him happy with a much younger lover (Goran Visnjic) - but does that mean that the 45-year marriage to his mother was just a ruse?
Oliver and Anna's meet-cute is only one of many touching and authentic scenes that run throughout Mike Mills' gentle drama. The three stars have an easy, improvisational chemistry, and the lazy, offhand structure is like something from The French New Wave, though Mills (who quietly impressed with his 2005 debut, Thumbsucker) does get a bit too cute with his scrapbook style - it has the quirk of (500) Days Of Summer, but is far more self-consciously arty.
Fortunately, the actors are in touch with the nuance of Mills' autobiographical story (his father also came out as a flamboyantly gay man in his seventies). Laurent is a pleasure, and McGregor does his best work in years. This is a moving, time-hopping story about romance and the risks that we do - or do not - take in the name of love. As good as the actors are, though, it's an unusually soulful Jack Russell terrier, who speaks back to Oliver thanks to helpful and often amusing subtitles, who almost steals the show.