Sunday, July 17, 2011

Beginners - Movie Review

Time for another semi-alcohol-fueled review!

I've said this before, but I LOVE The Vine in Livermore. I got to the theater, paid just $9 for a non-matinee. Ordered a Racer 5 and Arrogant Bastard beer (double fisting) and a burger, and had it delivered to my chair in the theater. You can't beat this!

Anyway, Beginners is a movie starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer. The movie is narrated by Ewan's character, who most of the time uses a photo-essay form of giving you snippets about his family and life. Ewan is a late-30's bachelor, and he starts by telling you that his mother died a a few years back and after that, his father, at the age of 75, came out of the closet as a gay man.

He then tells you that his Father has already died as well. This is told to you in the first five minutes of the movie, so this is no spoiler. Despite all the death mentioned in the first few minutes of the film, the tone of the movie isn't of sadness.

Ewan has taken on the ownership of his Father's dog, who he can understand as the dog speaks to him through subtitles. I found this to be one of the funniest elements of the movie and fortunately it's not used too much. He meets a girl at a party, played my Melanie Laurent, and begins to date her.

In the movie, 'Beginners' refers to both the beginning of a new relationship for Ewan and for his father beginning his new life as a gay man and discovering that aspect of his life.

The movie cycles between flashbacks of Ewan taking care of his Father before he died, his relationship with his mother when he was a child; and of him in the present-tense dealing with the death of his Father and being in a new relationship.

There are points where this is a quirky and clever comedy, but at other times this felt like more like a serious drama. With there being a lot about new relationships in the movie, you could say this is a romantic comedy. It never really felt like one to me though, but that's not a bad thing. I just think the tone of the movie kind of shifted around a bit.

There are some emotional moments toward the end. I'm generally not brought to tears by a movie, but even I had to fight back some tears towards the end of this movie. I don't cry though. I'm wearing a Superman shirt. I only cry when I accidentally cause the death of Lois Lane when I'm not fast enough to stop the rocket from crashing into a California fault line. Anyway, the relationship between the Ewan and his Father should relate to anyone.

The movie features some very strong performances from Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer. They really made the movie for me and you walk away from Beginners wishing you had known both of their characters.

This was written and directed by Mike Mills, who also did Thumbsucker. I haven't seen Thumbsucker, but now I feel compelled to see that. I like when a movie makes me want to see other movies written by or starring other people from the same movie. I think that's the mark of a good movie.

Ultimately, I really liked Beginners. I felt it was a little uneven as far as the tone of movie, but overall I enjoyed it.

Most of you don't access to an art house theater near you, so I give this a rental for most people. If you happen to live close to a theater that is playing this, I recommend checking it out. Otherwise, I recommend you rent this once it comes out on DVD.

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