Movie Review: Beginners

The Jack Russell terrier got the best lines.

If you like your movie to start at the beginning and end at the end, you’ll hate Beginners.

Let me back up. Around the 4th of July, when the Wife and Daughter went to visit my parents-in-law, I asked the Wife what films she wanted to see together, and she picked Midnight in Paris and Beginners. Then a couple of weeks later, she said, “Guess what film I saw at the movies today? ‘Beginners’.”

OK. So I ended going alone on a hot Sunday afternoon to the Spectrum Theatre, using an old movie pass I discovered in a drawer not that long ago.
Beginners is the story of Oliver (Ewan McGregor), who is still mourning the death of his father Hal (Christopher Plummer). It was only after Oliver’s mother dies that he gets close to Hal, who, at the age of 75, finally came out of the closet and enjoyed his final years. Oliver meets the mysterious Anna (Mélanie Laurent) and wonders if he can devote himself to loving her with the same wild abandon that his father showed at the end. Goran Visnjic also plays a significant role.

A fair portion of the movie involved young Oliver, in flashback (Keegan Boos) dealing with his quirky mother Georgia (the wonderful Mary Page Keller).

I really cared about these people. That’s probably a function of writer/director Mike Mills, who was mining his own experiences. It’s billed as a comedy/drama, and it did have a few good laughs; the Jack Russell terrier got the best lines. It certainly wasn’t raucously funny, and it is a bit oddly uneventful in parts. And for reasons known only to me, I kept thinking that McGregor looked a lot like Jason Bateman in some shots. Beginners is an uneven film. but it has enough insights to mildly recommend.

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