Saturday, July 16, 2011


Eschewing the appeal of spending two hours in the dark watching the pulchritudinous Ryan Reynolds in form-fitting costumes in Green Lantern, the Other Half and I decided to see the art-house film Beginners at the Laemmle's Playhouse 7 instead.

 Beginners is a very small film which has been getting quite good buzz (an 82% rating on It has a pretty acomplished cast, including Ewan MacGregor (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace), Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) and Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music). Plummer plays Hal, who is the father of MacGregor's Oliver. After 44 years of marriage Hal, at 75 years old, tells his son that he is gay and no longer wants to be theoretically gay. When the movie begins Oliver is in mourning for Hal, who has died from liver cancer a few months before after having spent an unspecified amount of time dating Andy (Goran Visnijc from E.R.) and enjoying the "gay lifestyle" with a group of dozen or so senior gay men. This entails having a movie night (watching The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, dancing in clubs to loud house music, having fabulous dinner parties and various excusions around Los Angeles). Oliver meets Anna at the very first party he has been dragged out to by his friends since his dad's death and it happens to be a costume party. He goes as Sigmund Freud, complete with a wig and lots of tweed, while she appears to be a mime and allegedly has laryngitis and can only communicate through written notes on a pad. The first thing she writes is "Why are you so sad?" This is a very perceptive remark and marks the beginning of their relationship.

As an Angeleno, Beginners is a fun experience because it is shot all over the city and one can watch the movie trying to figure out exactly where they shot what. Besides the geographical hook, Beginners is anchored by a pretty affecting performance by Christopher Plummer, who is now over 80 years old and playing a younger man. Shockingly, Plummer has only been nominated for an Oscar once. I suspect he will be nominated and may even win for this role, depending on the competition, of course.

The best parts of the movie usually involve the presence of the Jack Russell dog Arthur, who actually gets subtitles detailing his thoughts about the actions of the humans around him. The plot is centered around three "love stories": Anna and Oliver, Hal and Andy and Hal and Oliver's mom.

The movie is quite affecting and well worth seeing.

Director: Mike Mills.
Running Time: 1 hours, 44 minutes.
MPAA Rating: R for  language and some sexual content.
Release Date: June 3, 2010.
Viewing Date: June 18, 2011.

Plot: B-.
Acting: A-.
Visuals: A-.
Impact: A-.

Overall Grade: (3.5/4.0)

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