Thursday, January 26, 2012


Based on director Mike Mills' real life relationship with his father, Beginners begins with a grown son, Oliver (Ewan McGregor), learning that his 75-year-old father, Hal (Christopher Plummer, just nominated for an Oscar), is gay. The storyline fluctuates between Oliver's present with his new French girlfriend Anna (Melanie Laurent) and the commitment issues they both face; his childhood with a playful, but dramatic mother Georgia (Mary Page Keller); and his recent past with his dying father. Soon after Hal comes out he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hal lives it up, probably for the first time in his life, while Oliver is more practical-- a side effect of Hal's admission, and the normal role flip that occurs later in life when the child becomes the parent. Oliver is not disapproving, but cautious. He then brings this caution to his relationship with Anna, which complicates things. Oliver and Anna's courtship is quirky and sweet, but inevitably encounters some uncertainty.

As the title suggests, one can always start over. The key is to recognize the chance before it's too late. Both protagonists accomplish this, which could inspire anyone watching to do the same.

Two side notes:
1. Dogs in movies aren't my thing-- I can't think of one good movie that features a dog, but I can think of many bad ones: Beethoven 1-3, Marley & Me, Marmaduke, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 1 and 2. Rest my case. BUT, Hal's dog Arthur is alright in this bunch, keeping everybody honest. He's cute, but not intrusive. 

2. Goran Visnjic, best known for his role as Dr. Luca Kovak on ER, is unlike I've ever seen him (I wasn't sure it was him at first). He plays Hal's much younger boyfriend, Andy, who is childlike and very defensive. I was glad to see Visnjic doing something a bit different and completely pulling it off.

A great movie, with great performances all around-- even the dog.
Find it in the catalog!