|Directed by||Mike Mills|
|Written by||Mike Mills|
|Edited by||Olivier Bugge Coutté|
|Distributed by||Focus Features|
|Box office||$14.3 million|
Beginners is a 2010 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Mike Mills. It tells the story of Oliver, a man reflecting on the life and death of his father, Hal, while trying to forge a new romantic relationship with a woman, Anna, dealing with father issues of her own. The film is based on the coming out of Mills' own father at the age of 75, five years before his death.
Beginners premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, where the Los Angeles Times heralded it as a "heady, heartfelt film" with a cast who have "a strong sense of responsibility to their real-world counterparts". Christopher Plummer received numerous accolades for his performance, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The film is structured as a series of interconnected flashbacks.
Set in 2003 in LA, following the death of his father Hal from cancer, Oliver reflects on their relationship during the almost five years following the death of Oliver's mother, Georgia, also from cancer.
Shortly after her death, Hal came out to his son and began exploring life as an openly gay man. He becomes active in the gay community, finds love with Andy, a much younger man and becomes more honest with himself and with his son.
Oliver discovers that, although his parents were married for 44 years from 1955, theirs was not a romantic love. Good friends, and officially boyfriend and girlfriend in high school, as it was the custom to negate gayness, after the war she asked him to marry her. During Oliver's childhood, he had detected a lack of passion in his parents' marriage so, he says he has never settled for a passionless relationship.
As a result, Oliver and Hal become closer during the last years of his life. Oliver helps him during his treatment, observes as he refuses to face his diagnosis and to tell Andy that the cancer progresses to stage IV.
Two months after Hal's death, Oliver meets Anna, a French actress, at a party. They instantly connect and end up kissing, and he asks if he can just sleep at her place. The next day, she has to go away for a film shoot but wants to see him again. Inspired by his father's attitude towards the end of his life and their relationship, Oliver decides to pursue a romance with her.
When Anna comes back, Oliver finally feels he can open up to her. Periodically as they interact, he get flashbacks to his mother as she reminds him of her. His dad's terrier Arthur, who he can rarely leave, takes very strongly to her. Talking, they both realize they find ways of running from relationships.
Oliver invites Anna to move in with him, she does but then he is unhappy when she doesn't embrace it. After a very short time she announces she's moving back to NYC. He soon misses her, as she doesn't return his calls, so Oliver leaves Arthur with Andy and flies to see her in NYC.
Anna finally answers her phone, but she's still in LA. She gives Oliver a tour via mobile. He apologizes, then returns to LA, where they start over.
- Ewan McGregor as Oliver Fields
- Christopher Plummer as Hal Fields, Oliver's father
- Mélanie Laurent as Anna Wallace, a French actress with whom Oliver begins a love affair
- Goran Višnjić as Andy, Hal's much-younger lover
- Mary Page Keller as Georgia Fields, Oliver's mother
- Kai Lennox as Elliot, Oliver's friend and co-worker
- China Shavers as Shauna, Oliver's friend and co-worker
- Cosmo as Arthur
With cinematography by Kasper Tuxen, Beginners was filmed using the Red One digital camera. Much of the film is autobiographical, and is based on director Mike Mills' experiences after his own father came out of the closet following his mother's death.
As of June 2020[update], the film holds an 85% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 161 reviews with an average rating of 7.46/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Wearing its twee heart on its sleeve, Beginners explores the depths of modern, multi-generational romance with wit and depth." At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film holds an average score of 81 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Calvin Wilson from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote, "A lovably quirky comedy drama with a rhythm all its own." Diego Costa from Slant Magazine wrote, "One of the most distinct pleasures of Beginners is the way it puts together fragments of someone's life — presumably the filmmaker's, although little does it matter — with humility, and without vying for some complete whole." Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly wrote, "The movie darts, dreams, and sometimes seems to dance. The great Plummer, meanwhile, creates an inspiring, fully rounded man in late bloom, and McGregor responds with a performance to match."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying, "It's a hopeful fable with deep optimism and a cheerful style that kids itself." Peter Debruge from Variety said the film is "deeply poignant and disarmingly personal".
Beginners won the Gotham Award for Best Feature, shared with The Tree of Life, in 2011. For his performance, Christopher Plummer won the British Academy Film Award, Denver Film Critics Society Award, Golden Globe Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, National Board of Review Award, Online Film Critics Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award, all for Best Supporting Actor.
In addition, Plummer was nominated for the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor and the film was also nominated for Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay, and won for Best Supporting Male (Plummer). At the 84th Academy Awards, Plummer won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
- "Beginners (15)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
- Beginners at Box Office Mojo
- Bradshaw, James (2011-09-10). "Beginners: A late dash out of the close". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Archived from the original on 16 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
- Olsen, Mark (2011-09-05). "Beginners has a piece of Mike Mills' soul". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
- Dargis, Manohla (2011-06-02). "Beginners, With Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor — Review". The New York Times.
- Alexander Ryll. "Essential Gay Themed Films To Watch, Beginners". Gay Essential. Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- "Beginners". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
- "Beginners". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
- Ebert, Roger (2011-06-08). "Beginners". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2012-03-03. Retrieved 2022-02-20.
- Variety, September 12, 2010: Review: ‘Beginners’ Relinked 2014-06-25
- Szalai, Georg (November 28, 2011). "Gotham Awards 2011: 'Tree of Life', 'Beginners' Tie for Best Feature". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- Cangialosi, Jason (January 11, 2012). "Denver Film Critics Society Announces 2012 Award Winners". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
- "2011 - Categories - International Press Academy".
- "Film Independent Spirit Awards Home - Film Independent" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-12-15. Retrieved 2011-12-04.
- "Nominees and Winners for the 84th Academy Awards". Academy Awards Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars). Retrieved 21 February 2012.