Writer & Director: Mike Mills When Oliver (Ewan McGregor) meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent) only months after his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) has passed away, this new love floods Oliver with memories of his father who – following 44 years of marriage – came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life. Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox (U.S. Premiere)
WHO'S IT FOR?: For anyone that knows what it's like to love someone, and also what it's like to lose someone. This is especially for those who prefer big band and jazz over modern music when it comes to their romantic soundtracks. As for me, this might be my new Annie Hall.
Mike Mills’ Beginners is a positively alluring act of complete catharsis - a testament to the idea that an artist can find the greatest truths in life, love, and death by increasing the understanding of their own souls. Told delicately through three praiseworthy performances from Laurent, McGregor, and Plummer, the film offers fantastic imagery to go with its natural quirkiness, all of it blanketed by an undeniable honesty about love and death that is never abandoned for melodrama.
Romanticized to the piano solos of Jelly Roll Morton, Beginners is fantastically old fashioned, which further removes it from categorization with a lot of other films of its genre, as they can be more concerned with being hip than reflective. Taking the impact of relationships a step further than what it feels like to lose family, Beginners also focuses on how important our parents are to our emotional construction; McGregor’s Sigmund Freud costume early on in the movie is no coincidence.
Tapping into elements of love such as Freud and Jelly Roll Morton, Mills has created something that might even register along with the more romantic corners of Woody Allen’s filmography. Like something with the barometer of frank force that makes Annie Hall so fantastic, Beginners is a film that can be as gorgeously personal for its audience as it is for this courageous filmmaker.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10