Thursday, March 1, 2012

Beginners (2010)

Beginners (2010)
Rated R
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic
Directed by: Mike Mills
Tagline: This is what love feels like.
Running time: 105 Minutes

Quick summary (from IMDB): A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer, and that he has a young male lover.

There was so much buzz around Christopher Plummer’s performance in Beginners that I couldn’t avoid it, but normally, a comedy/drama like this wouldn’t even be on my radar otherwise. I was pulling for Jonah Hill to win, since Albert Brooks wasn’t nominated, because he was so surprisingly good in Moneyball, but after seeing Beginners, Plummer was the clear cut Best Supporting Actor of the nominees (I haven’t seen My Week With Marilyn, but I’d be shocked if Kenneth Branagh was anywhere near as good as Plummer), followed by Hill, Nick Nolte and Max von Sydow, in that order.

I don’t know what, exactly, it was about Plummer’s performance that sealed it, but he just nailed it. He wasn’t over the top and flamboyant, which a lot of straight men do when playing a gay man. You really felt his denial of the terminal lung cancer he was diagnosed with, and the blinding optimism and relief of him finally being able to be who he truly is, it was pretty remarkable. While I still feel that Brooks’ performance in Drive was the best performance by an actor in a supporting role, Plummer was the most deserving of the nominees.

It wasn’t on Plummer to carry the entire film, which he easily could have done, but on Ewan McGregor. McGregor has been pretty good in just about everything I’ve seen him in, but anymore, I forget that he’s Scottish. I haven’t heard him speak in anything but an American accent since the Star Wars prequels. The story isn’t just about his father’s death and coming out, but also about his budding relationship with a young French actress, and learning how to be happy in a relationship. McGregor is responsible for much more of the weight of the film, and he does a good job.

It was a really good story, and really well done. I really liked the way the movie was done. It was a very serious subject matter, but it was handled a little bit lightly. It also had a very matter-of-fact narrative style that was really interesting, and McGregor even talks to his father's dog like he's a person, which is awesome. It wasn’t a great movie, but it was better than I had anticipated. It’s kind of depressing and slow, but it’s also a little bit funny, but not in a laugh out loud kind of way, just kind of quirky.

3 out of 5 stars

Better than Avatar


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