Beginners (2010)


Directed by: Mike Mills

This is one the best films I have seen in a very long time.  I know, I know, "best" is such a vague and subjective word -- okay, it is one of my favorite films I have seen recently.  I watched it in 2010 when it was released, but recently, for whatever reason, I felt compelled to watch it again. I loved it even more.  It is such a nice, patient film, full of genuine moments, delicate relationships, and filled with gentle and loveable performances from a group of fabulous actors.  There is no huge explosive crisis.  There are problems, there are sad moments, there are conflicts, but there are no villains.  Maybe I'm getting mellower as I mature, but I have come to really appreciate this in a story.  Films like Wonder Boys and Happy-Go-Lucky also come to mind.  Ebert puts it so nicely: "They begin by wanting to be happier and end by succeeding."  What more does a story need?  

The cast is so charming:  Our fellow Canadian Christopher Plummer won a well-deserved Supporting Actor Oscar for this role.  Ewan MacGregor, as Oliver, plays a lost soul of sorts, saddened and confused by his father's death.  His sidekick, his father's dog Arthur, is full of profound thoughts communicated through subtitles.  Melanie Laurent plays another lost soul, whom Oliver meets at a costume party.  Their meeting is so delightful.  She has laryngitis and cannot speak so she communicates back to Oliver by writing on a notepad.  She recognizes that Oliver is hurting; one note she writes early on is "Why did you come to a party if you are so sad?"  They "get" each other, but have to learn to take risks and communicate what's on their minds. 

It is a great film.  Funny, touching, and full of ideas.  Recommended!


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