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Beginners

by

Jeff Nelson

There are some personal and heartfelt moments in Beginners, although it sometimes suffers from being a bit tacky.

Beginners
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If one was to look through independent movies for the theme of loss and regret, it would be an overwhelmingly high number. Dramas such as Beginners are quite easy to make. From the start, this film has been getting a large amount of hype from festival-goers and critics. After hearing about its Oscar nomination, soon to be victory, for Best Supporting Actor, I figured that I should check it out. From a glance, it definitely isn't my type of movie. I'm aware that a lot of moviegoers and especially a lot of mainstream critics really eat this type of movie up. I personally find it to be melodramatic and often exaggerates upon human emotion and takes away any form of reality from it. These dramas are transitioning with time into whatever is most popular. In this case, it has to do with homosexuality. Go figure that every stereotype of a gay man coming out is present.

Oliver is a graphic artist coming to grips with the imminent death of his father. At 75 years old, his last secret is that he's gay. Both inspired and confused by his father's determination to find true love at least, Oliver tentatively pursues a romance with a commitment-shy French actress Anna. The plot is all centered upon the themes of loss, regret, love, and being true to oneself. However, each one is so present that it almost feels as if they're going shoved down the audience's throat at times. One of my primary issues with movies such as this is that they're far too predictable. Anybody can guess what the inevitable end is with only knowing the synopsis. It appears that gay is the new big thing. I found it to be a bit offensive that Oliver's father isn't treated like any other normal character, but it portrays him as if he has nothing else in his life other than being gay. There's much more to a character than that, so I felt that his character is very much underdeveloped. The beginning of the movie is good, although it quickly pulls itself down. The pacing drags quite a bit, and struggles to pick itself back up. Once it finally has the potential to gaining some steam, the credits are rolling. The dialogue is fine, although there are only so many flicks such as this that I can stand at a time. These movies keep popping up left and right with the same problem. That issue is that they almost all feel like the exact same movie. From this portion of my review, it may appear that I completely dislike the movie. This isn't true as I did find that Beginners had its moments. However, I feel that the script is too common for its own good.

Starring in Beginners are Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, and Mélanie Laurent as the main characters.To put it simply, the acting is the strongest asset the movie has. Ewan McGregor may not be on my list of my favorite actors, but he certainly gets the job done here. He's actually quite believable as Oliver and never breaks that mold. Christopher Plummer won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Hal, Oliver's father. Plummer is a fantastic actor, but he has performed much better in some of his other works. To be honest, the strongest performance seen here is by Mélanie Laurent as Anna. She's very convincing and has proven in Beginners and Inglourious Basterds that she's an extremely well-composed actress. She delivers upon not only the emotional scenes, but the very tranquil scenes as well. Whether you love or hate this movie, I highly doubt that anybody will have anything negative to say about the acting. All of the actors are great, although I do think that Laurent is a standout here. It's a shame that she didn't get as much recognition as she deserves. However, as a whole, this cast is extremely believable as each character was well-cast.

As expected, there are some personal and heartfelt moments, although it sometimes suffers from being a bit tacky. The script has been seen way too many times over the years in a variety of different movies. I would like to see a movie with a similar story be written in a completely different fashion from a different perspective. That would be an interesting film that I would be willing to check out. However, it isn't a good thing when it blends in too much with other dramas. Within the next few months, this won't be something that will standout in my mind. It'll simply blend in with the rest. The acting is solid, although it's a shame that they couldn't have been provided with a script that could be as refreshing as I had hoped for it to be with all of the hype that people were spreading. Beginners is perhaps worth a rental on a bit of a slow weekend.

My Rating = Three Stars

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