Movie Monday: “Beginners”

“Beginners”
Directed by:
Mike Mills
Format: DVD from Redbox
Viewed: Saturday 12/31/2011 with my wife at home

In the mid- to late 1990s, I went through a serious Ewan McGregor phase. Most people think of him as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels. I’ve never seen those, and I don’t want to. Instead, I always think of Ewan McGregor as the hooligan in “Trainspotting,” as the naive love interest in “Brassed Off,” or as the karaoke crooner in “A Life Less Ordinary.” His early movies will always be my favorites, because he was growing up as a young actor at the same time I was growing up as a young indie film watcher.

McGregor plays a grieving son and awkward boyfriend quite beautifully in “Beginners,” a quirky and heartbreaking movie that co-stars Christopher Plummer and Mélanie Laurent. In a series of snapshot flashbacks, McGregor’s character deals with the death of his gay father in the present day, mixed with the lifelong fallout of watching his parents play their roles for 40 years in a sexless marriage. The film is directed by Mike Mills — who made striking music videos for the early work of Air and Blonde Redhead, among others — as an uncomfortable meditation on getting older, understanding family secrets, and forging your way in adult relationships. McGregor is just a couple years older than I am, and it felt to me like watching an older sibling take a difficult, real step toward a future that’s just starting.

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About jeffersonbeavers

Jefferson Beavers is a multimedia journalist based in Fresno, Calif. He teaches journalism and writing courses at Fresno City College.
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3 Responses to Movie Monday: “Beginners”

  1. Lisa says:

    This was a wonderful film. I’ve always loved Ewan McGregor. This time I fell in love with Melanie Laurent. She is dreamy! Love is hard. Even when you are as sexy as they are.

  2. Joy says:

    Corin and I watched this last month and loved it. The performances were heartbreaking and honest. I kept associating the director with the R.E.M. Mike Mills. I know the difference now, thanks to IMDB, but I still had “Stand” running through my head the whole time.

  3. Lisa, yes! “Love is hard. Even when you are as sexy as they are.” I’m totally using that!
    Joy, I’ve always liked Mike Mills (director) much better than Mike Mills (musician).

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