Sean K. Cureton

The First Great Film of 2011

In Movie Reviews: 2011 on June 28, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Theatrical Poster

Directed by Mike Mills
4 out of 4 stars

So far, this summer has offered some of the best film releases in succession in a long time, and Mike Mills’ new film Beginners keeps the chain going. Set up as your average romantic drama, Mills’ new film offers you insight into the characters involved within the relationship that is simply lacking in most other romantic dramas of the past few years. It is simply one of the most human pieces of film making that this reviewer has seen in a long time.

The film’s story follows the plights of protagonist Oliver, played superbly by Ewan McGregor, whose life is left in a shambles after the abrupt death of his father, played by Christopher Plummer, who only shortly before dying revealed to Oliver that he was gay. This fractured relationship between Oliver and his father influences how Oliver interacts with the world around him, whether it be at parties with his peers or at work, and eventually, with his new girlfriend Anna, played by Melanie Laurent.

What soon becomes apparent in the film is the fact that Oliver, who never felt very close to his father growing up, feels even more estranged from him as he becomes closer to him in his final months, and as he watches him be truly in love with a young man, whereas he was never truly in love with Oliver’s mother. The fact that his father never loved his mother is not news to Oliver, but the fact that he had been living a lie with her that whole time causes Oliver to question every one of his own feelings and impulses as well, which causes for a rather stressful relationship with Anna.

The way in which Mills is able to tell this story is what makes this film truly great. Using a non-linear story arch, Mills is able to hop between the story of Oliver’s father’s last months alive, Oliver and Anna’s budding romance, and Oliver’s relationship with his mother as a child. These three arches are thus able to intermingle with one another to better show the underpinnings within Oliver’s psyche that have created him into the person he has become with Anna and to explain his own actions within the relationship.

By creating such a brilliant cast of characters, whose individual personalities are examined in such close detail, director Mike Mills has been able to create the first truly perfect film of 2011. The romance that is the center of the film is real, and the protagonist involved within the romance feels even more so. Bottom line, Beginners is a film that you don’t want you or anyone you know to miss.


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