Beginners

(2010)

Genres: Drama

Review: Beginners

Transcript for Review: Beginners

CHRISTY LEMIRE:
"Beginners," stars Ewan McGregor as a guy who finds out his elderly father is dying of cancer -- and it's a comedy. Because at the same time, the father -- played by Christopher Plummer -- announces that he's gay. And now that his longtime wife -- McGregor's mother -- has died, he can finally reveal his true nature.

/Clip 1 -- Akbar. McGregor explains what house music is to Plummer.
 
McGregor is remembering his father in flashbacks. But at the same time, he's beginning his own new relationship -- a quick and intense fling with a French actress played by Melanie Laurent.
 
/Clip 4 -- Joy of Sex. The two browse in a bookstore.
 
"Beginners" is absolutely charming. McGregor and Plummer have a lovely, natural chemistry. And Laurent -- who was so great in "Inglourious Basterds" -- shows a softer side here, and an effortless gift for comedy. Now a lot of this could have seemed too cutesy or cloying on paper. And since the basis of the story is autobiographical for writer-director Mike Mills, it could have been painfully self-indulgent. But it's not -- it has great energy and hits just the right tone every time. Thumbs up from me. 
 
IGNATIY:  
It’s cutesy, and it’s gimmicky, but it also comes from a genuine place.  It’s even more than being charming, it’s touching, and it has a tender side to it; especially in the relationship between Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer.  Um, more so, than the relationship between Ewan Mcgregor and Melanie Laurent.  Which I think gets him…
 
CHRISTY:  
But he needs them both.  He needs them both to change.  
 
IGNATIY:  
He needs them both, but that one I think veers too much into romantic comedy quirk.
 
CHRISTY:  
Because of the way they meet at their little costume party where she can’t speak, and she’s got larangitis so she’s writing little notes to him? That’s very cute! Right. 
 
IGNATIY:  
Yeah, I mean, it’s a cute set up, but it can easily become grating.  It’s an example of, you know, three actors that do manage to really overcome this.  They really bring it across.  There’s something genuine about their performance even when the situations they are in are constantly artificial.  
 
CHRISTY:  
Right, for Christopher’s Plummer’s character I love that there’s  no mawkish in the way of one response to his death.  It’s a very sort of loving and joyous experience.  And also, when he realizes he’s gay, there’s no gay stereotype.  He’s not flamboyant.  He’s actually sort of vulnerable and like a kid all over again trying to figure out who he is.  
 
IGNATIY:  
Yeah, and the film is very, kind of, sensitive towards this idea of a man trying to, you know, find himself in a new, different culture and you know and a different role in the world late in life.
 
CHRISTY:  
He has to go date.
 
IGNATIY:
Yeah, the scenes with him dating and hanging out with friends are all really good.