Beginners review

The story of Beginners follows two narratives: one set in the present and one in the past but both told from the point of view of Oliver (McGregor). In the present, Oliver is dealing with the death of his father Hal (Plummer) and a possible new relationship with actress Anna. In the past, Oliver is dealing with the news that not only is his father gay but also has terminal cancer.

It's the earlier timeline that is the stronger here. We see Hal begin to explore his new life, going to gay clubs, finding new friends and a new relationship (with an almost unrecognisable Visnjic). The only issue I have with it is that Oliver seems to be so accepting of the news about his father's sexuality; it's almost as if his Dad makes the announcement and they just carry on with their lives, very few questions are asked. Then when Hal discovers he's seriously ill, again Oliver seems to just accept it without question.

In the second storyline we see a grieving Oliver begin to live his life again thanks to the 'kooky' Anna. They go on roller-skating dates and spend most of their time holed-up in her hotel room. But as the drama develops within their on-off relationship I found myself being drawn back to the other story and wanted to see more of the vibrant Hal who is determined to live his life to the full right through to the end.

The performances are good, with Plummer the obvious stand-out, there are even some rumblings from American critics he could bag himself a nomination come February (I certainly think he's better in this then he was The Last Station). McGregor does well as Oliver, he's likeable enough. And special mention should go to Hal's dog Arthur who almosty steals the show from his human counterparts. Mills' direction is interesting and I liked his use of graphics and animation. It's a film that will appeal to audiences who want a change from the usual summer fare but it's probably not going to set the box office alight.

Beginners at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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