Beginners (2010)

Beginners (2010) – Okay, I just have to start off with the fact that the trailers for this movie make it look like a comedy with some serious undertones when in fact it is the other way around. That is not a complaint about the movie; that is a complaint about the marketing. All in all, I like this movie but damn was it totally not the type of mood I was expecting when I popped the disc in the player… I like dramas, but a drama when I’m expected a comedy can be kind of an unwelcome sucker punch sometimes. Beginners was good enough that I don’t totally feel sucker punched (though there is some humor to counter-balance the sadness).

The film starts with Oliver (Ewan McGregor) dealing with the recent death of his father (Christopher Plummer). About a year before he died (a couple years after Oliver’s mother died) Oliver’s father hal came out of the closet as a gay man. He began to hit up the gay scene as an octogenarian and took a much younger lover named Andy (Goran Višnjić). A lot of this is told through flashbacks. Meanwhile Oliver kind of sleepwalks through his life, having imaginary subtitled conversations with his father’s dog (between this, The Adventures of Tintin, and The Artist, 2011 was really the year for scene-stealing canine sidekicks). Oliver also embarks on a relationship with a French actress named Anna (Mélanie Laurent) that seems alternately like it is doomed or it might be exactly what he needs (or maybe something in between).

The most impressive thing about Beginners is Christopher Plummer’s performance. He plays a man who’s been denying himself so long that, now that the end is in sight, he’s now going to do whatever makes him happy. Mélanie Laurent is also quite charming in this movie, and my lingering Inglourious Basterds crush on her remains fully justified. The film is not perfect. It drags at times and lays on the sadness pretty heavy in some areas in ways that don’t entirely feel earned. All in all the character work makes this one worth seeing. Plus, again: Christopher Plummer is god damn great in this. If you want to work your way through all the award-contenders (as I have been doing) this is one you should check out because Plummer is going for that gold…

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