Hello, blog. Hello, Katie. Beginners is a story about – what else – beginnings. The beginning of young love, old love, death, life, and just about everything else. It is a story about one man who is growing and changing and learning to make the best of what he’s got. Isn’t that what life is all about? Making the best of what we have? The fantastic part of life is that it can change in an instant. Something wonderful can happen, like meeting someone at a party you didn’t really want to go to in the first place and spending the rest of the evening smooching and canoodling. Then there are the curve balls that you don’t see coming. For Oliver (McGregor), the curve ball hits him directly between the eyes. His mother has passed and shortly afterwards his father announces that he is gay.
Hal (Plummer) is not only gay, but he has a young and quite handsome lover. Oh, and he also has cancer. Oliver takes everything in stride. He takes on the responsibilities of a son who has a sick parent and doesn’t appear to be falling apart as I imagine I would be. But that could be due to the new romance in his life. Any man would be happy to hang around with Anna (Laurent). She is fun, spontaneous, mysterious, and very easy on the eyes. Even though she is dressed as a man at the costume party where Oliver meets her, she is still stunning. That not fair kind of stunning that I strive for.
So Oliver and Anna hang out. They have slumber parties. They kiss. They eat Mexican food from a food truck. They roller skate. They play with Arthur, the Jack Russell Terrier once owned by Georgia and Hal, Oliver’s parents. All the while, Arthur seems to know what’s going on. Oliver and Anna fall for each other in a way that leaves the audience guessing what their ending will be. They both have baggage and both of them are going through something profound.
Arthur spends much of the movie having flashbacks to the time he spent with his mother as a boy and the time he spent with his father as a man. His mother had a strong will. She had no filter and had a strange yet admirable relationship with her son.
Caring for a sick parent summons our bravery. We must put on a brave face for those heading for the end of their time here on earth. Oliver does just that. He spends all of his free time at the hospital with his father. He shares visiting hours with Andy (Visnjic), Hal’s boyfriend. Andy is young and the relationship he shares with Hal is improbable, but he makes us believe in it nonetheless.
As predictable as the story seems, it is not. Life, love, death, sex, sickness, pain… you will find all of these here. It’s a moving, well-acted film. It will remind you of what it feels like to fall in love in one night. Unfortunately it will also remind you of what it feels like to fall out of love. The most painful of all, it will remind you of what it feels like to lose someone you love in one way or another.
I was asked to take a questionnaire for the producers because I saw it on opening weekend. One of the questions was “Did you feel this movie was depressing?” My initial response was yes. But really, this film was just honest. It gave a sort of brutal explanation of what can happen when someone you love dies or leaves you. That is depressing, but the movie actually left me with a light at the end of the tunnel feeling. It’s all about what you make of it. Kinda like life.