Beginners

Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Jun 24, 2011
    100
    A lovably quirky comedy-drama with a rhythm all its own.
  2. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jun 9, 2011
    100
    You know you're in the hands of a superbly gifted filmmaker when he can pull off a talking dog.
  3. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jun 2, 2011
    100
    What results is a disarmingly honest tale of affection, both romantic and filial.
  4. Reviewed by: Steve Ramos
    Jun 2, 2011
    100
    Sweet moments of subtle comedy and straightforward family drama mix perfectly with Mike Mills' trademark artfulness in Beginners.
  5. Reviewed by: Diego Semerene
    May 31, 2011
    100
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    May 29, 2011
    100
    Rarely do you find such self-plunging material beyond the realm of documentary or far-fringe museum fare, and despite his background in that arena, Mills sheds all preciosity in service of genuinely revealing introspection.
  7. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Jun 9, 2011
    91
    The result is as much a revelation of the artist's craft as it is of the man's heart and mind.
  8. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jun 2, 2011
    91
    Mills fashions the set-up for an overwrought, thoroughly depressing character study into an oddly charming comedy. It's a midlife crisis gently portrayed with sympathy rather than grief.
  9. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    May 29, 2011
    91
    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.
  10. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jun 23, 2011
    90
    A delightful film - gentle, playful, creative and ultimately happy - though it's a tricky journey.
  11. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jun 2, 2011
    90
    A sad, sweet, funny and ultimately unforgettable love story about a man and a woman and a father and son, and also ranks among the most affectionate and sensitive portraits of homosexuality ever crafted by a straight person.
  12. 90
    Mike Mills's marvelously inventive romantic comedy Beginners is pickled in sadness, loss, and the belief that humans (especially when they mate) are stunted by their parents' buried secrets, their own genetic makeup, and our sometimes-sociopathic social norms.
  13. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    May 29, 2011
    90
    All the movie's playfulness rubs off on the actors. Scenes crackle with life. The chemistry among all the actors is terrific.
  14. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Jun 23, 2011
    89
    Grief doesn't exactly sound like a promising starting point for a love story, but, really, what a bounty Mills presents to us of beauty and buoyancy and possibility.
  15. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jun 30, 2011
    88
    McGregor hasn't been this appealing or vulnerable in ages, and in both of the film's love stories, he exemplifies Mills' message.
  16. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jun 9, 2011
    88
    One of the pleasures of Beginners is the warmth and sincerity of the major characters. There is no villain. They begin by wanting to be happier and end by succeeding.
  17. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Jun 2, 2011
    85
    Beginners is all about beginnings that begin with endings - the point, Mills seems to be saying, is that sometimes you need to say good-bye to make room for hello.
  18. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jun 2, 2011
    83
    Doing some of his best work in years, Ewan McGregor plays Mills' alter ego as a prickly, not altogether noble loner in his late 30s who initially doesn't take the news of his father's coming-out well.
  19. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jun 3, 2011
    80
    Beginners is filled with crises of identity, but underneath it all is a beautifully humane, sweet and intelligent movie that knows exactly what it is at every moment.
  20. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Jun 2, 2011
    80
    A buoyant and disarming drama about sons and fathers, death and dying, living and loving and all the ways we find ourselves starting over, hoping to finally get it right.
  21. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jun 2, 2011
    80
    In wistful tone and mood, Beginners at times hazily evokes the films of Wong Kar-wai, including "Chungking Express," a different kind of memory piece.
  22. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jun 2, 2011
    80
    The film's special mixture of sadness, comedy and hope sneaks up on you and stays in your memory.
  23. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    May 31, 2011
    80
    A movie with an unflinchingly tough heart.
  24. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Jun 16, 2011
    75
    What's refreshing about Beginners is its sympathy for all of its characters, which translates into the characters' sympathy for each other.
  25. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jun 15, 2011
    75
    The result is an effective portrait of a damaged individual uncertain about the meaning of love and commitment and the two key relationships in his life that teach him lessons about both.
  26. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jun 9, 2011
    75
    As for Plummer, I don't know how he does it, but he somehow radiates gayness. It's nothing overt, just some internal shift, but if you saw only 10 seconds of Plummer in this film, you would know he was playing a gay man. You just might not know how you know it.
  27. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Jun 3, 2011
    75
    This superbly acted and ultimately disarming dual coming-out comedy-drama -- which turns out to be semi-autobiographical -- certainly grows on you, despite all of the twee touches.
  28. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jun 2, 2011
    75
    McGregor goes bone-deep in a performance of shining subtlety. And a never-better Plummer is simply stupendous, refusing any call to sentiment as he shows us Hal's resonant lunge at life. Mills works the same way. Beginners is one from the bruised heart.
  29. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Jun 1, 2011
    75
    The best thing about Beginners is the way it accepts every character in a nonjudgmental way.
  30. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    May 31, 2011
    70
    So Beginners might sound insufferable, but it isn't - or at least not completely. Mills's second feature (after Thumbsucker) has way too many quirks for its own good, although it also flaunts a rare freedom to jump back and forth in time.
  31. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jun 5, 2011
    67
    All of this has its value, but Plummer, in rollicking good form, without a shred of sentimentality, is primed for greatness, and Mills keeps cutting away from him just when things are getting interesting.
  32. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Jun 16, 2011
    63
    Ultimately, the result is identical to Mills's debut effort in "Thumbsucker." Once again, clever insight vies with misty-eyed sentimentality, honesty with artifice, real humour with bogus gravity, the genuinely affecting with the merely quirky. But "Thumbsucker" was at least a promising start; Beginners is just a frustrating continuation.
  33. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Jun 9, 2011
    63
    The movie is foggy with reverence and uncertainty. This is the passive work of a man nervous to touch the third rail of his parents' discontent.
  34. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jun 9, 2011
    63
    Just cute enough for some tastes, too cute by half for others.
  35. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    Jul 18, 2011
    60
    With good performances and characters, Beginners is an enjoyable, amusing and occasionally poignant watch. Indie film fans will want to catch it, but it falls short of being a must-see.
  36. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    Jun 9, 2011
    60
    Mills pulls off the nonchronological structure with uncommon sensitivity; unfortunately, he also confuses sensitivity with preciousness (recurring scenes show the hero confiding in a Jack Russell terrier).
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 231 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 36
  2. Negative: 4 out of 36
  1. Dec 24, 2011
    5
    I must agree with some other reviewers, this movie is 104 minutes, but seemed like 240 minutes. Wasn't bad per say, but does have some majorI must agree with some other reviewers, this movie is 104 minutes, but seemed like 240 minutes. Wasn't bad per say, but does have some major flaws, such as extremely unbelievable relationships (e.g. the father and the younger gay man; the main character and his girlfriend), just didn't buy any of it. The ending too, really had no ending, which I"m cool with, but when combined with all the other flaws of the movie, was too much to bear. Go watch "Another Year" and enjoy instead. Full Review »
  2. Dec 17, 2011
    6
    This is probably the film I'm most disappointed with, despite the fact that it was ok. So, Ewan McGregor stars as a graphic designer.This is probably the film I'm most disappointed with, despite the fact that it was ok. So, Ewan McGregor stars as a graphic designer. Sporadically set in flashbacks ranging from 1955-2007, McGregor discovers that his father, a 75 year old, is gay. His mother already died from cancer, and McGregor finds out his father will soon die too. Along this emotional rollercoaster, McGregor meets a French actress who rarely speaks, played by Melanie Laurent. Their relationship blossoms after the death of his father, and he discovers her fragile past as well. So, a few things worked with others, so let's start with the positives. Most of the acting (see next paragraph for exception) was fantastic in this film, especially from Christopher Plummer, who played the father. His performance deserves some Academy recognition, even if it's just a nominee. I also was a fan of how this film dealt with its numerous dark topics. From cancer to abuse, the film covers so many topics in an 104 minute film, and glosses over them so easily.
    The main con in this film is, honestly, it isn't that interesting. The first half of this film is pretty dull, and even though it tries to test our interest with wit every few minutes, the funniest person is the dog who's thoughts are narrated through subtitles. I also wasn't a fan of Melanie Laurent, who played McGregor's girlfriend. Her character just wasn't believable, and she had practically no lines in the movie. I felt as if her character was just squeezed in there to make the whole love plot go through.
    I thought the film, in three words, was: disappointing, mediocre, quirky. It wears its quirky, ironic heart on its sleeve and I respect that. But, the film does have some pretty surprising flaws, and for that, I give the film a...
    C+
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 18, 2011
    4
    Ewan McGregor stars as a troubled son. He just can't seem to handle a relationship with a woman and is preoccupied with sadness. Meanwhile,Ewan McGregor stars as a troubled son. He just can't seem to handle a relationship with a woman and is preoccupied with sadness. Meanwhile, his father (Christopher Plummer) announces he's gay at 75, a subplot that adds the only life and warmth to the film. Oh yes, flashbacks to the childhood connection with his mother make regular appearances. All of this wandering thru a fluid timeline results in a numbingly navel-gazing, somewhat arty examination of life, love and happiness. Too heady to be enjoyable. Full Review »