Rave: Beginners

Our film writer (check out past posts here) Paul Aguirre-Livingston checked out one of Alliance Films‘ latest, Beginners. Here are his thoughts on the Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer flick. Beginners opens in select theatres Friday, June 17. 

We’re giving away two copies of Mike Mills’ book Drawings From The Film Beginners. To win, answer this question: who directed Beginners? Tweet us @rockitpromo.* 
UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who participated! The winners have been selected.  


Where has Ewan McGregor been? After starring in the much-hyped Angels & Demons (and the controversy-stricken I Love You, Philip Morris), it turns out McGregor was busy working on a role that may define his career and his legacy. In his latest flick Beginners, McGregor plays a character that transcends his usual genres of bland guys you like, and makes him into a man you want to be with.


Image source.

Directed and written by Mike Mills (his debut feature), Beginners is based on the true story of how his father, at 75, came out as a gay man after the death of his wife. Poignant and heartbreaking, Beginners is a cultural reflection of what it means to be gay at any age and is an exercise in parallelism, the way life turns out to be much “like father, like son.” 

Christopher Plummer (a 50-year veteran of the screen and stage) plays a perfect supporting role as the character based on Mills’ father. In fact, Plummer’s praise has extended as far as almost guaranteeing him an Oscar next year. 


And rightfully so. There’s a delicacy in his performance that brings even the harshest of skeptics (like me) to tears. Not only is Plummer fulfilling the role of a gay man, but one who’s lived his entire life in hiding, only to come out in a world where being gay is secondary to one’s place in society.



Plummer’s vulnerability in this role, earnest and heart-wrenching, shakes you to the core – emotionally, physically, psychologically. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to come into a world that is twice removed from what had originally kept you away from it. Beginners succeeds, in many ways that Brokeback Mountain or any Sofia Coppola film failed to, in representing the way life actually in the 21st century: removed, catatonic, indifferent, but hopeful.


Beginners lives in two realities. McGregor, as the lead, falls in love with a young, vivacious actress (played by newest French it-girl Melanie Laurent in her first North American feature) who, while the opposite of him, is equally unable to navigate the pressures of modern relationships, like balancing one’s own life with the needs of another person. 



In the end, the film teaches you that, gay or straight, love is the same. You just have to find it for yourself, manifested in ways you least expected.


Oh, and bring tissues. Lots. 

*Open to Toronto residents only.