As I sat down to watch Beginners I was overjoyed. “Oh this is going to be so cute and quaint and lovely and everything good about the world!” Boy was I wrong. It is a modern-day tale of love and acceptance that is actually quite boring and sad. And while I know that not all romantic comedies should be the same, some of the worst reviewed are some of the most entertaining (The Proposal anyone?). This film just missed the mark from the perfect balance of drama and romantic comedy.
The romance between Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent seemed to drag on a bit. It started out cute, at a party in which depressed McGregor brings his dog and the temporarily deaf Laurent tries to cheer him up. Endearing and awkward, right? I thought so. After that though, things fall into the ordinary lull of getting to know each other, falling in love, and sharing dark pasts. These scenes were filled with a lot of silence, quiet and awkward (and sometimes depressing) dialogue, with me checking my phone. The acting was great and both of the characters seemed incredibly genuine, you could feel their pain through the screen. That doesn’t mean I wanted to watch their monotonous love story evolve over 100 minutes.
Christopher Plummer was this film’s redemption though. He was phenomenal as McGregor’s father, and had the ability to make me smile or tear up in an instant. The flashbacks to his father’s life are well-scripted and sincere. As a viewer you are invited go through this huge transition with Hal and Oliver, and it much feels like an intimate view into their life and relationship. If anything, watch Christopher Plummer’s scenes and you’ll fall in love with his character and story.
Film Summary: After his wife’s passing, Hal Fields (Plummer) comes out to his only son, Oliver (McGregor), as gay. The father begins exploring his new life, as the son comes to terms with this new discovery. After his father’s passing, Oliver meets Anna (Laurent) at a party and, inspired by his father’s attitude toward life, decides to pursue a relationship with her. Beginners is structured as interconnected flashbacks Hal’s coming out and death, and moments from Oliver’s current life. The film won Plummer an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.