I tend to enjoy a good personal movie. There’s something about a person really investing, emotionally, in a project that makes me want to at least give it a go. I mean if they put that much into it, the least I can do is to try it our, right?
Beginners is one of those types of films.
Beginners is a very personal story as it’s inspired by actual events. In the span of five years Oliver Fields has lost both his parents. First his mother, after which his father comes reveals his homosexuality and decides to embrace it. Shortly after coming out, his father Hal, is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Naturally this bums Oliver out and he falls into a state of depression. But Oliver meets Anna and they fall for each other. But neither is free enough from fear to fully commit. All the while Oliver flashes back to moment with his mother and with his father.
I really enjoyed how Beginners would go back and forth between the present and various points in the past. It was effective, but more than that it was well done. It didn’t feel like a cheap gimmick, but rather how the mind works.
At first I was disappointed that we’d only see Hal through flashbacks, because I was really interested in his story. I wanted know more about his experience coming out at such an age. It seemed like it would be a sad story, but Hal seemed to really be relishing it.
That said the glimpses we got were enough. Yes, more would have been nice, but what we were exposed to was satisfying. And it’s also refreshing not having a gay character in a film struggling with coming out or
I also dug the central relationship between Oliver and Anna. It starts out cute and watching them grow closer and then further apart felt really appropriate for these two characters that were struggling with things. I also dug the ambiguous ending. I’m always down for an ambiguous ending.
The performances were solid. Christopher Plummer’s Hal was pretty devoid of loathing and so upbeat despite the odds and prognosis. I can totally see why he won Oscar gold for this role. McGregor had a nice tamped down performance as Oliver. He dig a great job of capturing the depression. Melanie Laurent and Goran Visnjic had the burden of playing love interests for the Fields, but made the most of their scenes, infusing their characters with genuine humanity.
Beginners is a touching and affecting film. It manages to be about death without being a downer.